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  • gilwilson 6:06 PM on August 29, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: baking, children's books, , recipes   

    Baker’s Magic by Diane Zahler  

    34687372Baker’s Magic
    by Diane Zahler
    Narrated by:Elisabeth Rodgers, Stina Nielsen, Robin Miles, Kenneth Cavett, Stephen DeRosa, Tavia Gilbert, Michael Crouch, &  L.J. Ganser
    Approx 7 hours
    Publishedby Live Oak Media; Unabridged edition (September 30, 2016)

    I have to start out that this is the youngest target audience book I’ve reviewed.  The intended age group for this book is 9-12 years old.  I had received the book from the SYNC YA summer downloads, and they rarely let me down, so I figured what the heck, let’s see what happens.  There are times where the prose could target kids up to about 15 years, but for the most part let’s keep it 9-12.

    The story is about what it means to be family.  In this book family doesn’t necessarily mean the family you were born into, but that family is equally important.  Being able to pull off defining family from both and how both are equally important is not an easy task.  This book does and does so in an entertaining and charming way.

    Bee is an orphan (we later find the cause of the loss of her parents and it becomes vital to everyone else in the book) and has escaped her foster parents to explore the lands.  She gets caught trying to steal bed from a baker and instead of punishing her, the baker sees she’s in need of food and helps her out.  He takes her on to be his apprentice to help pay for room and board.  Through her learning to bake it is discovered she has a magical ability to bake emotions into the foods she bake and the person eating the baked good feels what she felt while baking.

    Soon the exquisite baked goods come to the attention of the Mage, who is ruling the land by growing tulips in the absence of the King.  The tulips are the main source of income for the Mage and in making more room to grow more tulips, the Mage has removed all trees from the country.  The Mage is also in charge of the Princess who will gain rule of the kingdom when she comes of age.

    The reader/listener soon learns that the Mage is a very evil man and must be removed.  It comes to Bee and her new found friends to become the Princesses’ rescuers, but not without a fight.

    A fun charming story to share with your kids, and at the end of the book a recipe for buns that you and your children can make together.


    Publisher’s Summary
    Bee is an orphan, alone in a poor, crumbling kingdom. In desperation, she steals a bun from a bakery, and to her surprise, the baker offers her a place at his shop. As she learns to bake, Bee discovers that she has a magical power. When a new friend desperately needs her help against an evil mage, Bee wonders what an orphan girl with only a small bit of magic can do. Bee’s journey to help her friend becomes a journey to save the kingdom, and a discovery of the meaning of family.

  • gilwilson 5:35 PM on March 21, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: children's books, giants, , ,   

    The BFG By: Roald Dahl 

    The BFG17415176
    By: Roald Dahl
    Narrated by: David Walliams
    Length: 4 hrs and 25 mins
    Release date: 06-24-13
    Publisher: Listening Library

    To start things off let’s get one thing clear; The BFG is not the name of a weapon in a video game. The BFG stands for Big Friendly Giant. This book was extremely fun to read. The language is pretty much a cross between cockney English and nonsense. Roald Dahl was great at playing with the sounds of words here we get such words as chiddlers, swollomp, whizbangs and so much more. The play on words just makes this so much more fun to hear.

    Narrated by David Williams this audiobook version will definitely keep you entertained. There is no voice to large or too small for him to convey. He also puts some great accents on some voices that make them just fun to listen to.

    You’ll cheer for Sophie and the BFG as they keep London safe from other giants that eat little chiddlers. This book reminded me a lot of “Willie Wonka and the Cocolate Factory.” In Willie Wonka it was the candies and strange animals that had the funny sounding names, here nearly everything described by the giant is a new word which you will have fun translating.

    If you are looking for 4 hours of pure fun, this is the book for you. Follow Sophie as she is kidnapped through her bedroom window and meets with the Queen of England through the Queen’s bedroom window.


    Publisher’s Summary

    Captured by a giant!

    The BFG is no ordinary bone-crunching giant. He is far too nice and jumbly. It’s lucky for Sophie that he is. Had she been carried off in the middle of the night by the Bloodbottler, or any of the other giants – rather than the BFG – she would have soon become breakfast. When Sophie hears that the giants are flush-bunking off to England to swollomp a few nice little chiddlers, she decides she must stop them once and for all. And the BFG is going to help her!

    ©1982 Roald Dahl (P)2013 Penguin Audio

  • gilwilson 5:35 PM on March 13, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: children's books, derek jacobi,   

    George’s Marvelous Medicine By: Roald Dahl 

    George’s Marvelous Medicine17707580
    By: Roald Dahl
    Narrated by: Derek Jacobi
    Length: 1 hr and 36 mins
    Release date: 09-26-13
    Publisher: Listening Library

    Back to some more fun. It’s another Roald Dahl audiobook release. These are great short books that will keep you entertained, oh and maybe your kids as well. Dahl has a way with playful events and characters and this time is no different. This time an 8 year old gets revenge on his cranky grandmother. I do have one gripe with this book, but will save that for the end of this review.

    First I have to start with the book’s narrator, Derek Jacobi. It was a surprise to get such a high caliber British classical actor to read the books. He must have had fun narrating this book, because it was so much fun listening to him. Great delivery on this. I’m not sure why, but I got a real kick hearing the British pronunciation of medicine. It is pronounced as a 2 syllable word – Med-sin.

    So what’s going on in the book? While 8-year-old George’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Kranky, are out running errands, George’s grandmother bosses him around and bullies him. So to get back at her he creates a medicine out of household (and garage) chemicals then when he gives it to her she grows so tall she bursts through the roof. She can’t believe George did this, so to prove it to her he gives the concoction to a chicken which grows 10 times its size. Having possibly discover a solution to solve world hunger the family has George repeat the process.

    Here’s where the fun begins. George cannot remember exactly what he did before and experiments with all the chemicals to re-create the Medicine. His experiments turn out pretty funny. And eventually things come back to somewhat normality.

    Now for my gripe. The book needs to come with a disclaimer stating kids should not drink household or garage chemicals. Other than worrying about the kids wanting to create George’s medicine, the book is a lot of fun.

    Publisher’s Summary

    A taste of her own medicine. George is alone in the house with Grandma. The most horrid, grizzly old grunion of a grandma ever. She needs something stronger than her usual medicine to cure her grouchiness. A special grandma medicine, a remedy for everything. And George knows just what to put into it. Grandma’s in for the surprise of her life – and so is George, when he sees the results of his mixture!

    ©2007 Roald Dahl (P)2007 Penguin Audio

  • gilwilson 10:14 PM on January 4, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , children's books, doglas hodge, glass elevator, , , ,   

    Audiobook Review: “Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator” by Roald Dahl 


    Audiobook Review: “Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator”
    by  Roald Dahl
    read by Douglas Hodge
    Published by Penguin Audio
    Approx. 3.5 hours


    When I wrote the review of the newly released audiobook version of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” I felt I had to mention the two movies based on this book. The first movie, from the 1970s “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” starring Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka, seems to be the cult favorite. The latest version was actually titled “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” and starred Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka. Many folks refer to the first as the original and some even say best, but the latter version was the one that actually stayed true to the book. The first movie seemed to add in some features that are borrowed from this sequel by Roald Dahl, “Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator.”

    That is all that needs to be said about the movies this time around. It is time to focus on the book, more specifically the latest audiobook release. Being the audiobook I first have to talk about the reader or more accurately, the performer, in this release. The genius in casting the voice for this audiobook is that Douglas Hodge performed the role of Willy Wonka in the 2012 musical stage production of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” The catch is that Wonka is not the only character in the book, and Hodge has to perform all of the voices. Hodge does this to perfection. Sure, he presents Wonka perfectly, but that perfection is carried on in all the voices represented in the book, from Charlie Bucket to the President of the United States of America. The characters in this book are over the top children’s book characters and Hodge brings the to full-color audio life. I was totally consumed by this book due to the overwhelming performance by Hodge that brought this childhood classic to life.


    As for the book, well, it all starts off exactly where “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” left off. Charlie has just found out that Willy Wonka has decided to leave the factory to him. In order for Charlie to take over he has to move his family, which includes; his mother and father and two sets of grandparents. This will not be an easy feat since the grandparents are bedridden and have been for years, the reason they are bedridden is quite comical in that they just won’t get out of bed, Grandpa Joe is the exception because he got out of bed to accompany Charlie on the tour of the chocolate factory. To move them into the factory Wonka decides to transport the entire family in the glass elevator. The problems begin when Wonka uses too much speed to take off from the home causing the entire family and Wonka to blast into space.


    Once in space they decide to board the world’s first space hotel only to find out that it is overrun by Verniciou Knids. The staff of the hotel are just about to arrive when they see the glass elevator and mistake it for an invading ship unaware that the invaders (the Vernicious Knids) are already on the station. It is then up to the elevator occupants to save the world through the only way Wonka knows how, through extreme silliness and creativity.


    This audiobook adventure is pure fun and a great entertainment. It is also a nice way to introduce a new generation to Roald Dahl or simply re-visit a childhood classic.

  • gilwilson 3:45 PM on October 9, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: augustus gloop, , charlie bucket, , children's books, douglas hodge, gene wilder, , mike teavee, , , veruca salt, violet beauregarde, ,   

    Audiobook Review: “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” By Roald Dahl 


    Audiobook Review: “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”

    By Roald Dahl

    Read by Douglas Hodge

    Published 2013 by Penguin Audio

    Approx. 3.5 hours


    I think it is pretty safe to say that we have all seen the movie based on this book.  Whether it was the 70s movie “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” starring Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka, or the recent “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” starring Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka, this book launched two movies that have become hits.  The Gene Wilder version was a box office flop but has become a cult favorite and pictures of the Wilder Wonka as a recent internet meme.  The Johnny Depp version was a box office hit.   As a side note, the Johnny Depp version is the one that stayed closest to the book’s plot and actions.


    No matter which version you prefer, you should make sure and read the book for yourself and to your kids.  This book is just plain fun and with just as much non-sensical moments as Lewis Carroll’s adventures with Alice through Wonderland books.  Roald Dahl had such a great way of playing with words and sounds and they come out even more so in this audiobook production.


    The narrator, Douglas Hodge, recently portrayed Willy Wonka in the stage musical at the West End’s Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in England.  His narration of this book is pure magic.  The words, story and characters all gently roll into the ears and through the brainspace creating a magical audiobook adventure.  His vocal characterizations of all the fun people in the story are spot on and his portrayal of Willy Wonka will have you laughing out loud and even cheering out loud.


    The gist of this story is that Willy Wonka has not allowed anyone in or out of his chocolate factory in years.  When it is time to find someone to replace him he devises a contest to find the most imaginative child to take over running the factory.  The contest first involves five golden tickets distributed with his candy and the five lucky winners get a tour of the factory and a lifetime supply of chocolate.


    The five winners consist of: Augustus Gloop, a fat boy whose hobby is eating, Veruca Salt, a spoiled rotten brat, Violet Beauregard, a dim-witted gum-chewer who talks more than she listens, Mike Teavee, a boy obsessed with television and Charlie Bucket, the hero of the story and who seems to be the world’s only honest, kind and brave child.


    The children are each swept away due to their own short-comings and the adventures along the way are narrated with musical numbers from the Oompah Loompahs, the true labor force in the chocolate factory.


    Sit back and enjoy this great audiobook with great narration and even a few fun sound effects to keep the fun rolling.



  • gilwilson 10:23 PM on February 28, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , children's books, , , , lesley livingston, midsummer's night dream, , , wondrous strange,   

    “Wondrous Strange” by Lesley Livingston 

    “Wondrous Strange”
    by Lesley Livingston
    read by author
    Produced by Harper Audio
    Approx 7 Hours

    Kelly Winslow, an aspiring actress in New York City, has just had her big break, when the actress portraying Titania in Shakespeare’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream” has been injured and Kelly goes from being the understudy to the lead actress.  But not all is as good as it seems.  Kelly soon learns the world of Fairy and Fae is real, and worse yet, the Winter King, Oberon is not only real but is her real father.  This at first may sound good to suddenly find you are a Fairy Princess, but the Fairy-folk are really not a friendly bunch.   Someone in the Fairy world has decided they don’t want Kelly to realize her birthright.

    The troubles all begin when Kelly is rehearsing her lines in Central Park and Sonny Flannery, a Janus Guard for King Oberon (unbeknownst to Kelly) notices something different about Kelly.  Spying on her from the bushes he sees she is having a bad day (seems she forgot her lines during rehearsal and the director was a bit cruel).  Sonny can’t shake the feeling that she is different from most humans so curious he presents her with a rose.  Kelly asks why and Sonny says you look like you needed something nice.   When they part Kelly begins walking home through Central Park and hears the sound of someone screaming from a pond.  It turns out not to be someone but a something, a horse.  With Sonny long gone, Kelly realizes no one is around to help so she dives in to save the drowning horse.  Kelly risks her life to save the horse that seems to be tangled in the vegetation of the bottom of the pond.

    The next day Sonny discovers the area where someone was dragged on shore the mud in the grass and some mysterious black beads and copper colored horse’s hairs.   Sonny knows the hairs for what they are, Kelpie hairs.   Kelpies are fairy creatures that lure people into the water and eat them.  When Sonny finds Kelly’s script nearby he fears the worst.   Sonny shows Oberon the beads which Oberon immediately knows them as part of a spell that is set to begin the Great Hunt in which all the evils of the fairy world will be unleashed into the mortal world killing all in sight until the quarry is found.  This time the target is Oberon’s daughter.

    Sonny must save Kelly from the fairyworld by letting her know who she is.  At the same time he must find out who is trying to unleash the Hunt.  He suspects Queen Maab, but with a very interesting twist in the tale, the author, Lesley Livingston, creates a bit of a mystery into this fairy tale set in modern day New York City.  Very entertaining bit of young adult fiction that will keep you enthralled until the end.   This book is part one of a three book series but is easily a standalone novel.

    I have to note that at first I was a bit leery at the idea of the author reading her own work as the audiobook.  While the authors may have a great feel for what is in the book, the performance as a reader can sometimes lack.  Not so with Lesley Livingstone, she does a superb job of performing the many different voices and expressing all necessary emotion.  This audiobook is an excellent choice from that aspect alone.

  • gilwilson 9:11 PM on February 18, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , alice through the looking glass, , , , , , children's books, frank beddor, , lewis carroll, looking glass wars, , ,   

    “The Looking Glass Wars” by Frank Beddor 

    “The Looking Glass Wars”
    by Frank Beddor
    read by Gerard Doyle
    produced 2007 by Scholastic Audio
    Approx 9 hours

    What if the story of Alice in Wonderland was a true story? All the surrealism, the absurdities, the nonsense was just to make it more digestible to us.   That’s the approach Frank Beddor uses in his take on the Lewis Carroll classic.  In this book Princess Alyss (yep, that’s the way she spells it) is celebrating her 7th birthday in Wonderland.  Her mother is Queen Genevieve Heart and the ruler in the Queendom of Wonderland which is ruled with imagination and is the source of imagination for all other worlds.  Her Aunt, Redd, has been in exile and uses the celebration of Alyss’s birthday to distract the citizens as she and her card army invade.

    In this story the characters in Carroll’s book are fictionalized version of the real Wonderland characters.  The Reverend Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll’s real name) writes the book after listening to Alice, who cannot seem to convince people it is spelled “Alyss,” and changes some of the names and events for the book.  The White Rabbit is actually Alyss’s tutor Bibwit Harte (anagram there), the Mad Hatter is Hatter Madigan, a member of the Millinery which is Wonderland’s military, and is almost a dark character who is Alyss’s bodyguard but has the abilities and weapons of an assassin.   The parliament of Wonderland is ruled by representatives from different card suits; clubs, diamonds and spades.  Alyss’s best friend is Dodge Anders who is the son of a guard who seems to be a real and dedicated friend, but the Jack of Diamonds is destined to wed Alyss and is always causing trouble for the young Dodge.

    While Redd’s army invades Wonderland, Alyss and Hatter escape with the help of Dodge Anders as  Redd kills Alyss’s mother and father and takes over the  throne.  Dodge’s father, the captain of the guards is killed by The Cat and Redd then orders The Cat to kill Alyss and Hatter.  Alyss and Hatter barely escape to “our” world through the pool of tears.  The problem is that Alyss ends up in London and Hatter ends up in Paris.  Hatter then spends the next 13 years trying to find Alyss, and finally discovers where she is after Carroll’s book is published.

    During this 13 years Alyss is at first taken in by some street urchins, where her power of imagination is used to beg for money, but the powers are fading the longer she is away from Wonderland.  She is caught by authorities and sent to an orphanage where she is constantly made fun of because of her imagination.  She is then adopted by the Liddles where she meets Reverend Dodgson and he publishes her stories.  Because he changes the stories Alyss refuses to ever see him again.  Alyss also renounces her imagination and chooses to become “normal.”

    Hatter finds Alyss but is chased down by authorities  because when he finds her she is engaged to be married to Prince Leopold and Hatter is loaded down with weapons and seems a threat to the Prince.  When he arrives back in Wonderland he is shot and cannot return but Dodge Anders, now grown up volunteers to retrieve Alyss so she can battle Redd and restore Wonderland.

    While still maintaining a resemblance to the original story Beddor creates a fun adventure with imagination and thrills.  The reader, Gerard Doyle, does a superb job acting out this book giving each character their own voice and through some fun audio tricks creates some special effects for a few of the characters and events.   Definitely a must read for any Wonderland fan.

  • gilwilson 11:41 PM on January 11, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , children's books, evan rachel wood, genetic mutation, , james patterson, maximum ride, , , , the angel experiment,   

    “Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment” by James Patterson 

    “Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment”
    by James Patterson
    read by Evan Rachel Wood
    published 2005 by Hatchette Audio
    Approx 4 hours

    The master of thriller fiction, James Patterson, has been know to dabble in young adult fiction.  The “Maximum Ride” series is one of those dabblings.  With books under his belt like, “Along Came a Spider,” and “Kiss the Girls,” Patterson has shown that he can write a good thriller, and he takes that writing style and adapts it for the younger audience.  I’m not sure what age he’s aiming for with this series, it seems pretty wide open from 12 – 18 easily.  I know I enjoyed this first book in the series.  There were some moments that didn’t work for me but I’ll explain those later.  For the most part if the rest of this series is as fun and exciting as this first one, I could put up w/ what may be a minor fault.

    First off the choice of Evan Rachel Wood as reader took me by surprise.  But hey, she did it.  I know it takes acting skills to pull off reading an audiobook, and she does have the skills, but what surprised me most was her vocal range.  She was able to separate the characters very well with her voice, giving them each their own voice.

    This book introduces the listener to six fugitive kids; Max, Fang, Iggy, Gasman, Nudge, and Angel, known collectively as the Flock. The kids were genetically mutated in utero in a laboratory called “the School”, that rendered them 98% human and 2% avian.  The Flock is being hunted down by human-lupine hybrids created by the School called “Erasers”.

    Max (she named herself Maximum Ride) is the one telling the story, and she tells how Jeb escaped the School, with the flock and hid out in the mountains and raises the children for two years. Jeb disappeared leaving the flock to fend for themselves.  One day the Erasers find them and take Angel.  The flock must fly to the school to rescue Angel.  One thing about Angel, she has the ability to read minds and later we find she can also put thoughts into someone’s head.

    On the way to the School, Max sees a girl on the ground (bird vision?) being threatened by some thugs.  She tells the flock to fly to a safe place.  She flies down to rescue the girl.  The flock may be young but they look older because they are bigger, and on top of that they have stronger than human strength.  In the rescue Max is hurt in the struggle and finds herself at the home of the girl she helped.  The girl’s mother is a veterinarian and fixes her wounds.  The vet takes max in for some x-rays and discovers a chip implanted in Max’s arm, a sort of tracking chip that is so deeply embedded that it cannot be removed.

    Max meets up with the flock and they go on to rescue Angel, but they manage to get captured by Erasers themselves and discover that Jeb is the one behind the capture. The book then moves on to escape and the flock seeking to discover the truth about their creation.  Max is told she must “save the world,” and begins being led by a voice in her head that disrupts electronics.

    The story seems to be fast paced and the adventures take a short time to move on to the next part of the journey, which I see as being aimed at a younger audience.  My problem is that when, at times, when a major fight/battle seems to be eminent, all fighting just stops and the enemies just leave, with no victor to be had.   Maybe this, again, is for the younger audience, but it seems these moments could have been closed out better.

    All in all though this is a fun adventure in genetic mutations and kids seeking their origins.

  • gilwilson 2:21 PM on December 25, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , carolyn mccormick, children's books, , , , , , suzanne collins, the hunger games,   

    “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins 

    “The Hunger Games”
    by Suzanne Collins
    Read by Carolyn McCormick
    Produced by Scholastic Audio Books, 2008
    11 hours and 10 min. (unabridged)

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again today’s youth have some great literature written just for them.  Here is yet another shining example.  “The Hunger Games” takes several ideas and wraps them together to form an exciting bit of big-brother-dystopian-sci-fi.  While listening to this audiobook I kept getting thoughts/memories of various bits from media, I would be reminded of the 70’s sci-fi film “Logan’s Run” at times, or maybe “Rollerball” or “Death Race 2000,” then Stephen King’s short story turned Schwarzanegger movie “The Running Man,” then at times the book reminded me of the multiple reality shows like “Survivor” in which the contestants compete and get voted off.  In fact when researching the info on this book I found that the author, Suzanne Collins, was influenced when switching her television back and forth between coverage of the war in Iraq and “Survivor.”  Collins threw in a bit from the Greek Myth Theseus, who was forced by Minos to be sacrificed to the Minotaur, but survived and created this exciting story.

    After reading I found that this book is part one of a trilogy, and the trilogy follows this story’s heroine, Katniss Everdeen, as she is chosen to be a tribute to the government to battle in the Hunger games and eventually leads a revolution.  But the revolution gets ahead of our story.  Let’s talk about this one first.

    “The Hunger Games” is set in a distant but seemingly not too distant future, after the destruction of North America, in a nation known as Panem. Panem consists of a wealthy Capitol and twelve surrounding, poorer districts. District 12, where the book begins, is located in the coal-rich region Appalachia. Coal is the regions contribution to Panem as all districts have some specialty/export to contribute.  The problem is that the government keeps all the regions poor and the people of the districts further from the capitol (which is located somewhere near what is Denver, Colorado) are the poorest.  District One near the capitol is the least poor and the higher the number the more the suffering.  Katniss is forced to illegally hunt in the woods at an early age after her father dies in a mining accident and her mother becomes locked in grief.  Katniss hunts to keep her and her sister alive.

    At one point there were 13 districts but the 13th was destroyed when they tried to rebel against the capitol. As punishment for the rebellion every year one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 from each district are selected at random and forced to participate in the Hunger Games, a televised event where the participants, or “tributes”, must fight to the death in a dangerous outdoor arena until only one remains. Katniss, in place of her younger sister, Primrose. Also participating from District 12 is Peeta Mellark, a boy whom Katniss knows from school and who once saved Katniss’s life by giving her bread when her family was starving.

    Katniss and Peeta are taken to the Capitol, where they meet the other tributes and are publicly displayed to the Capitol audience. During this time, Peeta reveals on-air his long-time unrequited love for Katniss. Katniss believes this to be a ploy to gain audience support for the Games, which can be crucial for survival, as audience members are permitted to send gifts to favored tributes during the Games. The Games begin with 11 of the 24 tributes dying in the first day, while Katniss relies on her well-practiced hunting and outdoors skills to survive. As the Games continue, the tribute death toll increases, but both Katniss and Peeta are able to evade death.

    Katniss and Peeta are split up and the Gamemakers use dirty tricks and foul play to make the games more interesting by using some of the government’s genetic animal mutations, like tracker jackers, a form of wasp that when it stings it can case vivid hallucinations and kill.  Or human / wolf hybrids that hunt like wolves but can think like humans.  One mutation a Jabber Jay was created to spy on the population, it has the ability to imitate human speech perfectly so they would record the coversations in the districts and report back to the capitol, when this was discovered the populus would feed the Jays false info, after this that project was abandoned, the Jabber Jays were released and later mated with Mocking Birds, creating the Mocking Jay which could sing beautifully.  This Mocking Jay becomes a symbol of the people and of their freedom and has a large part in this novel.

    The adventures during the battle in the Arena are very exciting and will keep you glued to this one.  If you get the audiobook like I did you’ll soon discover the talent that is Carolyn McCormick.  Carolyn delivers the reading of this book with enthusiasm when needed and differentiates the characters by giving each their own voice.

  • gilwilson 11:10 PM on October 27, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 18th century, , , , bloody jack, , , children's books, LA meyer, , , ,   

    “Bloody Jack” by L.A. Meyer 

    “Bloody Jack”
    by L.A. Meyer
    Read by Katherine Kellgren
    Produced by Listen & Live Audio, 2007
    Approx 7.5 hours

    So do you like pirates, street urchins and love stories?  I think I may have found the perfect audiobook for you.  This time around I listened to another young adult novel, and had a grand adventure from the streets of London to fighting pirates on the high seas.  This adventure novel is also a nice historical novel.  The story takes place during the 18th century when his majesty’s navy was battling pirates and preparing for war against France.

    The story is told through the voice of Mary “Bloody Jack” Faber as she lives out these adventures.  It all begins with her as a young orphan on the streets of London trying to survive.  Mary takes up with “Rooster” Charlie, the leader of a gang of orphans who beg on the streets to survive.  Charlie takes care of his gang and Mary looks up to him as a brother.  When Mary discovers Charlie dead on the dark backstreets of London, she no longer has someone to take care of her so she decides to be her on person.  She takes Charlies clothes and the persona of Jack, she soon learns that as a boy things are a bit easier in the street life.

    Now living as Jack, she finds her way to the docks, where Navy ships are looking for ship boys, these are the boys that do the grunt work on board the ship,  Jack gets on board the H.M.S. Dolphin as a ship boy and maintains her secret of being a girl.  She soon boards with 3 other boys taken on at the same time and leads a life as a Navy ship boy.  After a year or so on-board she finds it harder and harder to maintain the secret because her body is betraying her.   Not sure what all the changes of puberty will bring, since she never had any parents to tell her, she strikes out on the next port call to a bordello to ask one of the women there what she needs to know.  Upon leaving the bordello the other boys see “Jack” and add to to the myth of her being a boy, after some teasing.  During this same port call the 4 ship-boys have created a pact among each other to always be true.  To prove this they get tattoos and whenever a secret must be kept they swear upon their tattoos.

    Jack gains her nickname “Bloody Jack” after the crew of the HMS Dolphin boards a ship and she, still only about thirteen years old, shoots a plundered pistol to kill a pirate who is about to stab one of her fellow shipmates, Jaimy, who is paralyzed with fright. She comes back to the Dolphin covered in blood, and her proud shipmates nickname the little “boy” Bloody Jack.

    During a battle with a pirate ship in the Caribbean the HMS Dolphin is damaged and takes on water.  The ship is forced to seek shelter in the cove of a small island until repairs can be made.  On this island there is no wood of use to repair the ship so one of the crew members, who has been experimenting with kites, puts Jack on the kite and flies her high to scout for land.  During the “flight” the kite breaks free flying Jack 30 miles or so from the Island to be marooned on another Island by herself.

    Growing up alone and trying to maintain a major secret create a great adventure in “Bloody Jack.”  Basically start out with a little “Oliver Twist’ throw in some “Treasure Island” with a dash of “Robinson Crusoe” and you have this fun adventure.

    Katherin Kellgren does a wonderful job voicing this book.  From the cockney accent of the street kids to the distinguished officers on-board the HMS Dolphin, she delivers the book with realism.

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