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  • gilwilson 6:09 PM on September 12, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: coming of age, tuberculosis,   

    “Extraordinary Means” By Robyn Schneider 

    23149153Extraordinary Means
    By: Robyn Schneider
    Narrated by: Khristine Hvam, James Fouhey
    Length: 8 hrs and 7 mins
    Release date: 05-26-15
    Publisher: HarperAudio

    Once again Audiobook SYNC’s YA summer of free audiobooks delivered another YA treasure.  Every Summer they pair up a classic book with a fairly new book in audiobook form for the young adult audience.  I started downloading these for my son and I to enjoy, but I’ve found I’m enjoying them just by myself.  This past summer this was one of the books offered and it intrigued me, the publisher’s summary described it as darkly funny and that it takes place in a tuberculosis sanatorium.

    Darkly Funny?  I’m not sure what I was expecting, but in the listening of this audiobook I found that the humor was in each of the characters dealing with the possibility of dying from a fatal disease.  So most of the humor was just regular teen humor and being called dark by the publisher because they were all dying.  Picture “Breakfast Club,” but with tuberculosis.

    Tuberculosis sanitorium?  Those are a thing of the past, this must be a period piece.  Nope, not at all.  Robyn Schneider brings back tuberculosis in a form that is drug resistant, that means even the childhood vaccines no longer work.  So now the kids from the Breakfast Club, have to try to get better as much as modern science can help with a drug resistant strain.  Many times the kids in Latham House (the sanitorium) hear rumors of cures but most turn out to be hoaxes.

    This book follows Lane and Sadie for the most part as these two high school seniors cope with not having a potential future.  Lane is new to Latham House and meets up with an old friend, Sadie, who he knew from one summer at camp.  Sadie has a bad memory of that summer thinking Lane intentionally dissed her.  That story plays out to be a big mix up as a result of mean girls playing a trick on her in camp.

    Sadie seems to be the “leader” of a group of kids that fight the system and sneak out to the woods to drink alcohol and steal internet from the library.  Lane soon becomes a part of the group and the two fall in love (after clearing up that summer camp debacle).

    All the time the promise of death from the disease looms over the group and they try to do the best they can.  I will warn you there is no happy ending, but the ending is something worth fighting through.

    The narrators do a great job representing the story from the two teens in love points of view.  The male and female voices capture the characters emotional states throughout the book.

    Get this book, share this book, and most of all enjoy this book.

    Publisher’s Summary
    John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars meets Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park in this darkly funny novel from the critically acclaimed author of The Beginning of Everything.

    Up until his diagnosis, Lane lived a fairly predictable life. But when he finds himself at a tuberculosis sanatorium called Latham House, he discovers an insular world with paradoxical rules, med sensors, and an eccentric yet utterly compelling confidante named Sadie – and life as Lane knows it will never be the same.

    Robyn Schneider’s Extraordinary Means is a heart-wrenching yet ultimately hopeful story about the miracles of first love and second chances.

    This production includes a bonus excerpt from Robyn Schneider’s next audiobook, Invisible Ghosts, performed by Caitlin Kelly.

    ©2015 Robyn Schneider (P)2015 HarperCollins Publishers

  • gilwilson 5:19 PM on January 23, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , chicanos, coming of age, folk healer, hispanic, mexican-americans, ,   

    Bless Me, Ultima By: Rudolfo Anaya 

    Narrated by: Robert Ramirez
    Length: 11 hrs and 16 mins
    Release date: 09-17-07
    Publisher: Recorded Books

    Sometimes a book comes your way and just sits there waiting to be read, and then when the time is right you read it when you need it. That’s pretty much what happened here with “Bless Me, Ultima.” I had downloaded the audiobook from the SYNC YA summer reading program and just kept it on my computer for a while. Then while looking for what I thought would be some light fare I decided to listen to this Young Adult novel. I have to say it was interesting to read about someone else trying to determine what is good and what is evil and how to cope with what you know to be true.

    The book follows a young Antonio as he is about to begin school and be separated from his mother for the first time. While worrying about school, Ultima, a sort of folk healer, comes to live with his family. Antonio is expected to become a priest, by his mother. In a community of farmers this will be a difficult road to travel. While he is preparing for his first communion and learning about God and good and evil, his religious background is enhanced by the folktales and teachings of Ultima about his ancestors.

    As Antonio begins to question good and evil things happen in the village that lead Antonio to become concerned for the soul of his father. Ultima also shows him how to break a curse from the town’s witches and learns to save his Uncle. Antonio’s education becomes a pathway that shapes not only his future but his family’s future and his standing in it.

    This book not only tells the coming of age of Antonio, but also gives the reader/listener a look into the society of the vaqueros (farmers) and Mexican-Americans / Chicanos and the blending with European religion and attitudes.

    Robert Ramirez delivers the narration of the book with the perfect subtlety and accent to keep the book interesting throughout.

    Publisher’s Summary

    With hundreds of thousands of copies in print, Bless Me, Ultima has been called the most widely read Mexican-American novel in the English language. Richly evocative, it has earned its place among the classics of modern literature, even drawing favorable comparisons to Herman Melville’s legendary Moby Dick.

    ©1973, 1994 Rodolfo Anaya; (P)2004 Recorded Books LLC

  • gilwilson 10:10 PM on March 15, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , brian hutchison, coming of age, , , , rot and ruin, , , ,   

    “Rot & Ruin” by Jonathan Maberry 

    “Rot & Ruin”
    by Jonathan Maberry
    read by Brian Hutchison
    Published by Recorded Books (2010)
    13 hours and 12 minutes

    Once again I’m amazed at the range of Young Adult fiction genres available. This time around I was just looking for another zombie book to listen to, and I had heard one of Maberry’s other books (actually a couple of them) and his writing was so creative I thought, well, it’s about zombies and it’s by Jonathan Maberry, so I can’t go wrong. Nope, I didn’t go wrong, the story was fantastic, but what surprised me was that this was released as a Young Reader’s fiction, or rather it was written, as a Young Reader’s book. Really, how cool is that, a zombie book with a bit of a coming of age story?

    One of the things I like about MOST Young Adult fiction, is that they usually offer up some sort of life-lesson which the main character learns and matures as the book progresses. Throw in a Zombie Apocalypse, and boom, you know kids would love this book. At least I hope so, because, sure, while it is a coming-of-age/life-lesson book, there are some super cool zombie massacre scenes, and some cool samurai swordplay that totally rocks this story.

    Props definitely have to be given to Brian Hutchison on the reading of this book, with the variety of characters providing dialogue, he did a superb job of vocally separating each character from the main characters, brothers, Benny and Tom Imura, to the various rough and tumble zombie bounty hunters, like Harry Pink-eye and the Makong brothers. He also knew exactly when to emphasize the action and slow down for the moments when something serious was being discussed, keeping the focus on the story and the creative way of telling a coming-of-age story.

    The story begins about 13 years after “First Night,” the night when the dead began to rise and feed upon the living. The world has changed, the zombies still walk out side towns protective walls in what is now known as “The Rot & Ruin.” Benny Imura has turned 15 and that being the age where he must find a job in order to keep getting rations, he searches out several avenues. Most people are surprised he’s not becoming a bounty hunter like his brother. Benny doesn’t care for his brother, Tom. Benny thinks Tom is a coward because of his first memory. That memory takes place on “First Night” where Benny’s mom hands Benny to Tom and Tom runs away carrying Benny as their father kills Benny’s mom. I should point out that Benny and Tom are Half Brothers.

    Benny searches for a job all over Mountainside, the fenced in community where many have settled, so he can keep his rations. He tries for the job as an erosion artist, artists that take pictures of the formerly living and turns them into zombies so bounty hunters can bring closure to the families (at least SOME bounty hunters). Benny makes the zoms too scary so that job is denied him. Seeing an ad for a bottler, Benny thinks cool, bottling soda, that should be great, but as it turns out that soda is not being bottled, instead, Cadaverine is being bottled. Cadaverine is the “essence” of the dead that keeps the zombies from attacking the hunters who go out into the rot and ruin.

    All through Benny’s job searches, more and more is learned about this post zombie apocalypse world, and Benny finally thinks it would be cool to be a bounty hunter. After all he hangs out at the local store hearing tales of expeditions from the roughest of all bounty hunters, Harry Pink-eye. Benny can’t figure why everyone is always saying his brother is the best of all bounty hunters, when Harry seems to have all the greatest stories about the Rot & Ruin.

    Tom takes Benny out to try to show him what a bounty hunter really does and changes Benny’s view of the world. Tom shows Benny that he kills zombies only to bring closure to grieving families, so they finally know what happened to lost loved ones. Seeing a new side of Tom, Benny’s world begins to change.

    In this strange zombie world, the kids all collect zombie cards, cards that depict great moments of the world since First Night, and the heroes and bounty hunters. When the latest release of zombie cards comes out and features a rare card featuring the “Lost Girl,” Benny becomes intrigued. The story is she was left alone to fend for herself in the Rot & Ruin, and is still alive killing zombies.

    Benny finds out that there is more to the story one that involves his brother and some bounty hunters that create extra-curricular activities by forcing men women and children to fight zombies in an arena. Benny and Tom’s worlds are destroyed when the card comes out because the bounty hunters don’t want the world to know about the “Lost Girl” and they kidnap Benny’s friend and head out to find the “Lost Girl,” leaving Benny and Tom on a race against time and zombies to save the innocents.

    Super exciting zombie story with some great life-lessons, give this one a go. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.

    • theguildedearlobe 1:35 AM on March 16, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      I love Rot & Ruin, but I really never jelled with the narration for this one. Not that Hutchinson was bad, because he wanted, but he sounded to old for the characters in my opinion and that took me out of the story. I’ve been trying to decide whether to read the next installment of do the audiobook version.


      • gilwilson 1:19 PM on March 16, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        granted he was older sounding, and that worked for the narration and the many adults and when it came to voicing the 15 year old voices (the youngest of the book) he captured the feel and sound, in my humble opinion.


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