Monday, October 28, 2013

The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp, Read by MacLeod Andrews.

 I read a lot of books.  But, still, every once in awhile a book really tears at my heartstrings.  This is that book for me this year.  Whoa.  I finished listening to the audiobook last week and I'm still reeling from it.

Sutter Keely (you can tell he's cool by his name, right?) is a senior in high school who drinks too much liquor from his Polar Pop and has too much fun every single night. He's the life of the party, doesn't take much seriously, and lives in the moment.  Then one night he meets Aimee, a not-cool girl who likes science fiction and throws newspapers at 5 am every morning.  They aren't your normal couple.  But Sutter wants to "save" her and tries his best to use Aimee to get over his own lost relationship.

This isn't just a save-the-unpopular girl love story though. Sutter is troubled--he doesn't ever stop drinking. His dad is a loser. His step-dad is a jerk. His mom doesn't care about him. His older sister would rather forget he exists.  We learn so much about Sutter's family, and then we start to question his view of the people around him.  Are things really that bad? Has Sutter been dealt an unfair hand? Or does he need to grow up?

As I listened, I couldn't help but think of the Sutter Keely's in my life.  And not just in high school.  There are plenty of grown men and women in arrested development who live in the spectacular now and refuse to plan for the future.  So, so sad. But it's fun to be friends with a few of those people, right?

Kudos to MacLeod Andrews for the Oklahoman accent--great narration!

The movie The Spectacular Now never made it to theaters by me (of course) so I will have to wait until it's in RedBox or Netflix to watch it--can't wait! See the movie poster and trailer below.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Iron House by John Hart. Read by Scott Sowers.

Back in 2009, I read this author's The Last Child and stayed up too late reading it.  This time, I didn't want to stop driving because I had to keep listening to it!

Iron House is an orphanage straight out of a nightmare--bullying, abuse, and boys who aren't loved.  Michael and Julian, two brothers, are trying to survive living there.  Julian ends up being adopted by a Senator's wife, while Michael runs away for a reason I won't say.  Flash forward twenty years to their lives now--Julian is a successful children's book author with a troubled mind and Michael is a calculating, rich man with connections.  They are brought together again in a whirlwind of events that kept me glued to my driver's seat.  Sowers did a great job narrating this book, too!

Give this to fans of adventure, mystery, suspense, and non-stop action!

And now I'm off to reserve Hart's other titles.....

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King. Read by Kirby Heyborne

I loved this author's Please Ignore Vera Dietz. And I read Ask the Passengers and gave it 4 stars on Goodreads, even though I wasn't too thrilled with the whole talking-to-airline-passengers thread. For some reason, this 2011 title fell through the cracks for me, so I wanted to make sure I listened to the audiobook. I'm so glad I did!

Lucky Linderman is a high school kid who has been picked on his whole life by the school bully. The bully rarely gets in trouble though, and even the guidance counselors give some sorry excuse for the bully's behavior.  Getting his face shoved into a sidewalk is the last straw for Lucky's parents.  Lucky and his mother spend some time at her brother's in the desert heat, and the break is good for all involved.  Lucky meets some new friends, learns to respect himself, and learns that everyone has his/her secrets.

When I read the above paragraph, I feel like I'm making this book into some sappy after school special.  It isn't. It's a well written story.  I was anxious for the book to continue every time I got back into my car.  I wanted to yell at the characters and smack them around a bit.  It was AWESOME. Lucky is the kind of kid who I see in the library all the time--even at my community college.  Maybe librarians are just drawn to kids like Lucky--the ones that need a little bit of attention to kick butt in the real world.  

Monday, October 7, 2013

Hostage Three by Nick Lake

Reviewed from ARC received at ALA Annual.  I'll be upfront that I'm a bit biased toward this author.  I was on the committee that awarded The Printz Award to his book, In Darkness.  In his newest young adult title, Nick again transports us to a country that we don't know much about--Somalia.

Amy is a teenager trying to rebel against her father for abandoning her after her mother dies.  She's a classic case--piercings, getting in trouble at school, etc.  When her rich father decides to purchase a huge yacht and sail around the world with Amy and her new step-mother, Amy isn't exactly thrilled.  Then again, she doesn't have much keeping her in London either.  And so she goes, intent on tanning a lot, listening to dubstep loudly, and trying to just figure out what to do with her life.

And then come the pirates. It is odd to read a modern book that with pirates--these aren't swashbuckling heroes.  They are Somalians who want to redistribute the wealth they see floating off their coastline.  They carry AK-47s, people die, yet they have senses of humor. The pirates are people, and Amy gets to know one of them in particular, a handsome pirate named Farouz. There is a bit of Stockholm syndrome in this novel, and it's perfectly believable.

I was impressed with Nick Lake's ability to write from a female's perspective--it never felt awkward to me. But I was even more impressed that I felt sympathy for the pirates--their lives are hard in Somalia and the reader understands why they do what they do.  And then I felt guilty for thinking that kidnapping and holding people for ransom is acceptable!

I did read the Advance Readers Copy, so I'm not sure how much of the design will carry into the final book, but I love the white space and the ending.  It sure fooled me, even as I was thinking, "WTF?" It's pretty appropriate that Tom Hanks' new movie Captain Phillips comes out this month and is about an American cargo ship being taken over by Somali pirates in 2009. See to watch the movie trailer.  I don't think this book is Printz worthy, but I really appreciated a modern adventure tale about Somalian pirates.  Because, come on, when was the last time you read a book like this?

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Trail of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz. Read by Christina Moore.

This is the 5th installment of The Spellman Files (released in 2007) and the series is getting tired. I didn't laugh out loud while listening to the audiobook, although I did cringe with Christina Moore's version of Rae's  and Isabel's voices in places.  Funny how the accents and obnoxious-ness changed throughout the reading.

Isabel is still in a love/hate relationship with her family and trying to stall herself from growing up in her relationship with Henry.  Her arrested development didn't seem to be funny in this book--just sad.  Rae is all grown up now, too--her antics weren't as extreme as usual and the entire family just seemed to be growing up and apart.  I felt like this book was the last in the series--but I know that #6 The Last Word has already been published.  I think I'll do the book justice and read it in print form to see if I find it funnier.