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  • gilwilson 10:10 PM on March 15, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , brian hutchison, , , , , rot and ruin, , young adult fiction, ,   

    “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.


  • gilwilson 9:58 PM on March 5, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: a million suns, , , , , , , , , , , , young adult fiction   

    “A Million Suns” by Beth Revis 

    “A Million Suns”
    by Beth Revis
    Read By Tara Carrozza & Lucas Salvagno
    Published by Penguin Audio
    10 hours and 18 minutes

    Young Adult fiction is one of those great genres that appeals to all ages, and can be a hit or miss. Recently the “Twilight” series of young adult vampire romance took the world by storm (hopefully that waste of time is over), before that there was Harry Potter and now “The Hunger Games” has been released as a movie. So the young adult fiction genre is one worth checking out, no matter your age. Many of the stories are extremely well written and just having the main characters as teenagers puts them in the YA category. While listening to this audiobook, I was (and still am) listening to another YA audiobook. This one is science fiction and the other is a Zombie Apocalypse YA book. So as you can see lots of directions you can go with this genre.

    This book is book two of the “Across the Universe” trilogy with the third book due (at the time of this posting) early 2013, so If you haven’t read the first one or listened to the audiobooks you still have some time so get going. Being the second book in the series there are some things that need to be stated to help you get caught up. The ship Godspeed is a multigenerational ship that has been sent on its 300 year mission to a planet that orbits the twin suns of Alpha Centauri. The crew consists of a group of people who have been set up in the ship with specific duties to keep the ship running generation after generation. The citizens of Godspeed are led by an Eldest who trains an Elder to rule the next generation. The ship’s main cargo consists of around a hundred or so people from various walks of life who are frozen in cryogenic chambers to be thawed upon arrival at Centauri Earth.

    There has been a bit of a mutiny in the Eldest/Elder community where one Elder is thought dead and a younger Elder is being trained to replace Elder. The missing Elder has taken the name Orion and started unthawing the “frozens.” Amy has been thawed out and joins Elder in solving the mystery of who is killing the frozens. Amy discovers that there are engine problems and that Godspeed may not arrive for another 50 years. Soon Orion is caught and frozen to be thawed and tried by the other “frozens” upon arrival at Centauri Earth. But not before it is revealed that the population of Godspeed have been controlled through drugs, and fooled for generations about the arrival at Centauri Earth.

    Here in book two, Amy now has settled with the fact she may never see her parents again (they are among the “frozens”) and has to start her life on Godspeed and decide if she is going to have a relationship with Elder. Elder is now in charge of the Godspeed, following the death of Eldest. He is determined to be different in his leadership style, no more lies and no more drugging his people. But rebellions begin rising up, laziness threatens food production, and there’s another murderer onboard. Meanwhile, Amy stumbles across a thread of clues left behind by Orion, explaining his extreme actions and revealing more secrets that will affect the entire ship, leaving Amy and maybe Elder with a choice to make. One of those secrets is that Godspeed is no longer moving through space, not merely moving slower than expected.

    This story mixes a coming-of-age type story with mystery, romance and adventure with some superb science-fiction. The science-fiction aspect should be the one that grabs you but with all the rest thrown in, it’s pretty hard to resist.

    Both teen and adult science fiction fans will enjoy this extraordinary coming-of-age story. Filled with intense suspense, adventure, mystery, and a bit of romance – A Million Suns is pure excitement from beginning to its cliffhanger ending. This fantastic space opera trilogy is a must-read.

    The book is separated with each chapter told from the point of view of either Amy or Elder and the team of Tara Carrozza and Lucas Salvagno doing the reading the story flows perfectly. Each able to capture the main characters and all their personalities, as well as vary their voices well enough to still allow for the multiple character’s dialogues to be perfectly translated.


  • gilwilson 4:36 PM on February 19, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , miss peregrine's home for peculiar children, , ransom riggs, , , , , young adult fiction   

    “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs 

    “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children”
    by Ransom Riggs
    Published by Quirk Books (2011)
    352 pages

    Okay before we start on this book I have to share some info that took place in the reading of this book. While reading this fascinating young adult fiction, I opened up a store with a friend of mine. While opening the store I started reading this book in hardcover format, that’s important and will be explained later. The store we have opened is True Hideaway Family & Gaming ( http://www.truehideaway.com or find us on face book) The central focus of the store is for gamers especially those that play “Magic; the Trading Card Game,” we have friday night tournaments and are looking at maybe doing tournaments other nights since we’ve become popular.

    We affectionately refer to our store as a “nerd store,” because it is home to all things nerdy. My part of the store is comic books and collectibles, the other aspect is we sell books (manga, reprinted pulp-fiction books, sci-fi / fantasy novels and graphic novels) as well as all the gaming materials. We even have regular “old-fashioned” board games and anyone can come in anytime and play a game. Role playing games seem to be highly popular and we have folks come in and play their campaigns. I am liquidating my old comic book collection of around 2,000 or so comics and when I sold an old “Kiss” comic from the mid-70s for $70, I decided to reward myself by finally buying a kindle.

    With my rewarded kindle in hand, I loaded up some books that are on my to-read list and took off. The first book I loaded was this book, I was halfway through the hardcover, but I thought what better way to launch than to get this “peculiar” book rolling. I am now in love with my kindle, but every so often I know I’m going to go back to a regular tree killing book, but for now, I’m a kindler.

    Okay let’s move on to this book, “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.” When I first picked up this book I wasn’t aware that it was a Young Adult fiction, I knew it was fiction, but the goal is for ages 13 and up. The and up is very true, this book is very well written, with a fascinating story and some great adventures thrown in that make this book perfect for all ages.

    The book was originally intended to be a picture book with the photographs that were collected by various people from bins of lost photographs found at flea markets and such. But thanks to a genius editor at Quirk Books, Riggs wrote a story based on the photographs. The photos are all peculiar in and of themselves and putting them together to form a story the author shows not only genius himself but a storytelling ability that would put any comic book writer to shame.

    The bulk of the pictures feature various weirdness of subjects; a man posing with a rock in the background looking as though he’s lifting the boulder, a young boy’s head on a dog’s body, a young girl looking as though she’s holding a flaming orb. Many of the pictures are a bit creepy and sometimes when the story behind them created by Riggs is told they can seem extremely normal or even creepier.

    The story revolves around Jacob whose grandfather had escaped Nazi invasion by fleeing to a children’s home on an island off the coast of Wales. The children are all “peculiar,” at least according to the stories from Jacob’s grandfather. There is the invisible boy, a teacher that is a bird, a strong man, a girl that floats, one that controls the growth of plants. So at times this school seems to have come out of an issue of X-men comics. But the story goes even further when Jacob witnesses the death of his grandfather at the hands of a shadowy figure. Jacob tells his story and immediately branded as suffering a mental breakdown due to the loss of his grandfather. His grandfather’s last words were to follow the loop to September 30, 1940 and find the bird. Cryptic yes, but after exploring his grandfather’s possessions he finds that the school his grandfather survived the war in exists.

    When Jacob and his father make a trip to Wales, the dark secret behind “Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children” is revealed and soon Jacob must save the children and possibly the world.

    Superb creativity that will capture the attention of anyone of all ages.

    • gajenn 4:59 PM on February 19, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for the review, this has been on my “to-read” list for a while!


    • Erica 3:53 PM on February 20, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      This sounds great! I’d never heard of the book before, i like the use of old photographs – what a great touch!


  • gilwilson 8:39 PM on February 8, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , young adult fiction   

    “Across the Universe” by Beth Revis 

    “Across the Universe”
    by Beth Revis
    read by Lauren Ambrose and Carlos Santos
    Published by Penguin Audio
    Approx 10 hours

    Once again I venture into the world of Young Adult fiction, and this time around it’s a really cool science fiction book, “Across the Universe.” The story is a simple, yet very intriguing, tale of love and power.

    Scientists of Earth have discovered a planet that is capable of supporting life, the problem is that travelling to the planet would take 350 years. To solve this problem the ship Godspeed has been created which will carry a generational crew that will for several generations support the ship on the long journey and a special cargo of several specialists frozen in cryogenic boxes that will be unfrozen when landing on the new planet.

    Amy, a 17-year-old girl, is one of the members frozen but only because here mother is a genetics specialist and her father is military, both of whom are essential in the mission. Amy is listed as non-essential, because she serves no purpose in the mission. During her Cryogenic stasis, Amy is treated to dreams that haunt her during the 300 year journey. Finally she is unfrozen, but awakes onboard the Godspeed, that is still travelling to the planet. In fact her premature thaw is part of a mystery that has plagued the ship for some time.

    To keep the ship running the ship’s generational crew is led by a leader called Eldest. Eldest leads the current generation in its mission to take the ship to the new planet and at the same time is teaching Elder, who will be the next Eldest when that generation “dies-off.” Elder is around 18 years and the generation he will lead is yet to be born.

    Before I go more into the story I’d like to talk about the audiobook itself. The book is told from the point of view of Amy and Elder and this production casts the part of Amy read by Lauren Ambrose and Elder by Carlos Santos. Each of the readers does a great part in reading their part as well as voicing the other character’s dialogues. With the dual cast aspect this audiobook is very smooth flowing and definitely attention grabbing. Each reader is strong in their performance, and able to effectively portray all emotions and attitudes of the characters.

    So where were we? Oh yeah, Amy has been thawed out prematurely. She soon finds out that the ship still has about 50 years left on its journey and realizes that by the time the ship arrives on the planet she will be older than her parents. Add to that horror she finds that the ship’s crew are mono-ethnic, meaning that as a pale-skinned redhead she stands out in a population where everyone has brown hair, dark eyes, and olive skin. Add on top of that, other bodies are being thawed out but their thawing process is not done right and they drown in their cryo-chambers. Amy only survived because Elder was exploring this part of the ship that is hidden from all other members, and managed to find her before she died. Elder was exploring this section of the ship under the suggestion of Orion, the records keeper, who has a dark mystery.

    Everyone on the ship has a job to do and there are no people under the age of 20. Each generation’s population is strictly controlled by the ship’s mysterious doctor and Eldest. Amy is unfrozen around the time of “The Cycle” when as if going in heat the current generation suddenly begins acting as animals do and the urge to mate overwhelms all senses of decency.

    Elder soon learns the big secret as to why the structure of Eldest/Elder was formed. It seems the ships engines weren’t all they were cracked up to be and the ship is actually further than 50 years from its final destination. To keep this secret the Eldest have been controlling the population with mind control drugs in the water to keep them obedient. With this dark secret, Elder and Amy are faced with the decision of what the population needs to know and how to keep the ship on course, no matter how long it takes.

    A great story, some very well thought out Sci-fi, and great performances from the readers makes this young adult fiction something everyone should put on their must listen list.

    • scottjclemons 3:12 PM on February 9, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      My typical reaction to hard sci-fi is, “No FTL engines? No thanks.” This book was a totally different story.

      AtU uses the lack of that classic space-opera element to set the stage for some wicked sweet conflict. I don’t know about you all but the thought of spending my entire life coasting through space with no chance of escape scares the poop out of me. For the people on a generational ship the place where you’re born is the place you’re going to die. It’s like spending your entire life in your own coffin. Spooky.


  • gilwilson 12:38 PM on January 21, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , island, , michael boatman, , the cay, theodore taylor, , young adult fiction   

    “The Cay” by Theodore Taylor 

    “The Cay”
    by Theodore Taylor
    Read by Michael Boatman
    Published by Listening Library (2006)
    2 hours and 58 minutes

    How many of you out there have read a Young Adult book?  Hopefully many, but for those of you who haven’t, I hope I can get you started in a new direction.  Young Adult literature are books that are aimed at the ages of 12-18.   These books run the gamut of genres and can be some very interesting reading.  Sure they are written for “the kids” but we adults can thoroughly enjoy them as well.  Take for example the “Eragon” series or the Harry Potter series, many adults found hours of enjoyment in those books, and there are lots more where those came from.

    A couple of summers ago I was introduced via an online community the group Audiobook Sync.  Each summer they have pair up  YA (Young Adult) audiobooks with a similar theme, so each week in the summer kids & adults can download 2 audiobooks for free.  Last summer I downloaded every week’s pairing and even though it has taken me until now to get to some, I love these books.  This book, “The Cay” was teamed up with “Storm Runners.” I haven’t listened to “Storm Runners,” yet but if this book is any sign, it should be fun.

    “The Cay” takes place during World War II but is not a war story, rather this is one of survival and friendship.  When WWII breaks out Phillip Enright and his family are living on the island of Curacao.  Phillip’s father was brought in from the states to help build oil refineries for the Island.  The Germans send submarines to the island to prevent the refining process so the non-axis countries cannot have the fuel.  When the island becomes unsafe Phillip and his mother board a boat, the S.S. Hato, to Virginia.  The ship is torpedoed and Philip is separated from his mother.  He finds himself on a raft with an old West Indian man, Timothy, from the boat and a cat named Stew. Phillip has been warned by his mother about black people, “They are different, and they live differently,” and is wary of Timothy.  Timothy rescues Phillip but during the boat attack Phillip was hit in the head and after a couple of days becomes blind.

    Phillip becomes extra dependent on Timothy because of the blindness.  Soon the odd trio arrive at a cay, a small island with no fresh water, and begin setting up camp for survival.  The two characters learn to overcome their disdain for one another, and develop strong bonds of friendship by the end of the novel. The two characters learn to overcome their disdain for one another, and develop strong bonds of friendship. Timothy teaches Phillip how to do many survival skills, such as weaving sleeping mats, building ways to catch fresh water and ways to fish, all while overcoming Phillip’s blindness.  The trio overcomes many obstacles until a hurricane blows in and they must rush to tie everything down, including themselves.  During the storm they lose their shelter, also sometime during the storm Timothy, who is somewhere near 80 years old, dies, leaving Phillip to fend for himself,  Phillip soon learns why Timothy did the things he did, he was preparing Phillip to survive alone.

    This story was one of those filled with every emotion from anger, anxiety to love and friendship and will keep you listening until the very end.  Michael Boatman does a superb job of voicing this book, and captures the accents and emotions of both of the characters perfectly.

    • Bookish Hobbit 7:14 PM on January 21, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      I remember when we read this book in school. The teacher had passed out copies for all of us to read along as she had the audio book playing on the cassette player. I actually was thinking about this book a month or two ago.


    • katkasia 4:33 PM on January 22, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      I’ve had this book since primary school (and I’m talking the 80’s here), although I’ve never heard the audio version. It’s a terrific read!


  • gilwilson 2:11 PM on October 29, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ashes ashes, , , , , cassandra campbell, , jo treggiari, oasis audio, plague, , scholastic books, , , , young adult fiction   

    “Ashes, Ashes” by Jo Treggiari 

    “Ashes, Ashes”
    by Jo Treggiari
    read by Cassandra Campbell
    Produced by Oasis Audio
    9 hours and 48 minutes

    Time once again to dive into the fiction from the young adult category, this time I listened to a post-apocalyptic dystopian novel “Ashes, Ashes” by Jo Treggiari.    As with most young adult titles this one involves a little romance but lots of action and some despair.  The world has ended but, Treggiari never fully explains why but 99% of the human population is wiped out from a smallpox like plague.  The rest of the world is getting wiped out by floods and drought and the cities are decaying.  What’s left of the human population is being hunted down by hazmat suited people called sweepers, armed with tazers they invade encamped populations taking people (especially children) away in white vans to an island hospital never to be seen again.

    Lucy Holloway is an anomaly.  When the book opens we find her struggling for her own survival eating only that which she catches and kills.  Relying on acorn mush is not enough and through the help of a survival book rescued from the decaying library as the book opens she is learning to clean and cook a turtle.

    While out checking her snares she sees a boy of around her same age (16) who helps her to escape from the sweepers.  The boy, Aiden, stays on her mind and she often thinks of joining his encampent of refugees.  When a tsunami threatens her campsite she litereally runs for the hills and in running away decides to find the encampent.  Lucy decides that she would be better with a group rather than alone, and joins up with the group of survivors.  But the danger follows her and the sweepers raid the camp taking people away.  This time one escapes and leads a rescue party to bring back the other children.  On this rescue mission Lucy discovers the sweepers are looking specifically for her because her blood holds the mystery to surviving the plague.

    Through the dangers of a dying world and a mad scientist on the hunt this book is full of adventure that will sweep you away to a world of survival.  The reader Cassandra Campbell does a nice job of presenting the story and with the constant teetering on the edge feel of the story the few mispronunciations are easily forgiven.

    The book does present an interesting end, in that it ends the story nicely but does leave it open for a sequel, which I’m hoping Jo Treggiari has planned.  If you liked the “Hunger Games” series this book will be right up your alley.

  • gilwilson 4:06 PM on October 9, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , bruce donnelly, circus, clive barker, , , , xanadu, young adult fiction   

    “The Adventures of Mr. Maximillian Bacchus and His Travelling Circus” by Clive Barker 

    “The Adventures of Mr. Maximillian Bacchus and His Travelling Circus”
    by Clive Barker
    read by Bruce Donnelly
    Published by Crossroad Press
    Approx 2 hours

    The first thing that grabbed me about this audiobook was that it was written by Clive Barker, I have always loved horror novels and Barker’s horror novels are some of the best. I knew this was a fantasy book, and was prepared for this because I have read a few of his fantasy books including the young adult fantasy series “Abarat.” What I wasn’t prepared for, once I started listening was the depth of the language and the way the story completely engulfed me. What is more amazing is that these stories were written in 1974 when Clive Barker was only 17 years old. At first listen it is an amazing book by a young author, but more to it, it is an amazing book that will take you on a magical fantastical journey in and of itself, regardless of the age of the author.

    On a side note regarding this audio book version, I think the non-emotional, straight forward read actually works. I have recently become a fan of audiobooks where the author actually acts out the book and even provides different voices for the characters, or even better yet a full dramatization with a full blown cast of actors. These types make the audiobook more of an exciting experience, but for this book, where the language used by Clive Barker is the star, the nearly monotone emotionless reading by Bruce Donnelly works. This approach took some getting used to but once the book was rolling I found myself completely lost in the language. The words used by Barker in this book flow like poetry.

    Maximillian Bacchus is the ringmaster and owner of what he considers the greatest show in the world. Traveling with a Crocodile named Malachi, a trapeze girl named Ophelia, a strong man named Hero, and a clown named Domingo de Ybarrondo. All travel in a wagon pulled by a giant “Ibis bird,” the troupe wanders from adventure to adventure.

    The book consists of four interwoven stories beginning when Indigo Murphy, the best bird handler in the world, leaves the show to be married to the Duke Lorenzo de Medici. During the feast where this announcement is made Maximillian Bacchus announces the circus will travel to the fabled Xanadu built by the Khan named Kubla. From there, the magic never stops. On the road they meet a young apple thief named Angelo with glowing eyes who tries to redeem himself by helping to find a lost girl. The troupe next rescues an orangutan named Bathsheba from what seems like the evil and opposite form of the travelling circus. The Circus then arrives at the end of the world where the people living in a town on the edge of the world are terrorized by a band of trolls. Finally arriving in Xanadu the troupe sets to perform for Kubla Khan. After the troupe performs the daughter of the brother of Kubla Khan is abducted and the sun is stolen from the sky, the Khan gives in to the sadness of the event but Maximillian Bacchus and his travelling circus volunteer to rescue the girl and bring back the light of the sun by venturing into the crystal caves beneath Xanadu.

    With magical prose and fun short stories, this is one book that is great for all ages. This would be the perfect bedtime story book, and in audiobook form would be the great travelling companion.

    • Filme 2:40 PM on April 9, 2012 Permalink | Reply

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  • gilwilson 10:08 PM on April 25, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , over the end line, , soccer, todd licea, young adult fiction   

    “Over the End Line” by Alfred C. Martino 

    “Over the End Line”
    by Alfred C. Martino
    Read by Todd Licea
    Produced by Listen & Live Audio (2009)
    Approx 6 hours

    I don’t usually start out an audiobook review talking about the reader, unless it is a multi-cast performance, but this time around I have to jump to it and get it off my chest.  The reader of this audiobook, Todd Licea, Is overwhelmingly awesome at presenting this book.  The book is told in first person and the author, Alfred C. Martino, provides some beautiful wordsmithing to create the story which in and of itself creates a theatre of the mind effect, but Todd Licea presents the story with such great quality that basically the listener has no choice but to strap in and enjoy the ride.

    Martino creates such clear images of everything that it is as if you already know everything as it is happening.  For example, when describing the scenes from the soccer practices or games the reader/listener doesn’t need to know the rules, they are explained in such a way you feel as though you already know everything about the game.  That teamed with the excellent delivery of Todd Licea makes for a superb story worth hearing.

    Johnny Fehey has been friends with Kyle Saint-Claire since they started school, but as they enter their senior year, the distance between their obvious social differences could not be clearer. Kyle earns excellent grades and is the school’s star soccer player. Johnny has no interesting quality to own up to but tries. There also seems to be an economic social factor dividing the two also.

    Legend has it that the school’s social structure has been drawn out into a ladder diagram with those higher on the ladder being the most popular and those lower, the social outcasts.  Johnny spends his weekends at the library, where the legendary diagram is said to be hidden, trying to find the Ladder and figuring out how to change where he stands on the ladder.  Fate steps in, Johnny shoots the winning goal in the county championships, he becomes part of the popular crowd. At the victory party, Johnny witnesses the rape of a girl by Kyle and a teammate. Kyle and Johnny’s friendship hangs in balance as they ponder what to do and whether their choice will be the right decision.  Little does Johnny know that the life of the closest person he understands is also at stake: his own.

    The complicated relationship between Kyle and Johnny is very realistic. It is a perfect example of a story in which the characters are not divided easily in to the popular kids vs. social outcasts. The ending is very unexpected, but the lead up will keep you on the edge.

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

    “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, , , , , , , frank beddor, , lewis carroll, looking glass wars, , , young adult fiction   

    “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.

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