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Posts Categorized: Nick Podehl

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Audio Review: Bruiser by Neil Shusterman

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Audiobook, Review, Young Adult1 Comment

Audio Review: Bruiser by Neil ShustermanBruiser by Neal Shusterman
Narrator: Kate Rudd, Laura Hamilton, Luke Daniels, Nick Podehl
Published by Brilliance Audio on 03 May 2011
Genres: Action & Adventure, Adolescence, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Illnesses & Injuries, Love & Romance, Sci-Fi, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Sports & Athletics, Young Adult
Length: 6 hours 55 minutes
Format: eBook
Source: Audible.com
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: Violent Ends

Place(s) Traveled To: Unknown, USA

First Line(s): If he touches her, I swear I’m going to rip out his guts with my bare hands and send them to his next of kin for lunch.

My choice to pick up Bruiser by Neal Shusterman was two-fold, first it was a Neal Shusterman book and I was curious to see what his writing style was like outside the world of Unwind. And second, the audio was narrated by Nick Pohdel, Kate Rudd and Luke Daniels – three narrators that I really enjoy. Its also narrated by Laura Hamilton but she was an unknown to me at the time and of the 4 narrators I liked her narration the least. Her part was that of Bruiser’s little brother, Cody, and that was a character that annoyed the ever loving crap out of me (think Carl on The Walking Dead) and Hamilton almost sounded like a cartoon as she read his POV scenes. But Pohdel, Rudd, and Daniels shined and I fell more in love with their narration styles than I had been before.

The story of Bruiser is a bit harder to talk about because to talk about it risks giving away the very thing that makes this book special. At its heart though Brusier is a story of misunderstandings, forgiveness, and friendship. Brewster, nicknamed Bruiser, by his classmates is a loaner and is always getting into trouble. He has a reputation of being a bad boy with a bad attitude and so everyone stays away. Then one day he and Bronte strike up a conversation and they talk. This happens a few times and Bronte sees something underneath the gruff, standoffish persona of Brewster and the two start to fall in love. This is something that Bronte’s twin brother, Tennyson, wants to try and stop and he does what he can to come between the two. Tennyson is a popular kid in school and everyone likes him. His reputation is to be the cool kid, the guy on top, the one that everyone wants to be friends with because he’s so charismatic and nice. Only as the story progresses you learn that the ones you think are nice aren’t so nice and the ones you think are bad aren’t so bad.

Bruiser Quote

Brusier is such a layered story and each chapter, each POV change just leads you deeper into its depths. Its a slow reveal but then also one that is not impossible to figure out. The foreshadowing parts I could have done without and then there were some things that the characters did that nearly broke my heart. But overall, this was a story that I enjoyed. It kept me on the edge of my seat and I was invested in how each of the characters storylines would play out. With the exception of Cody, because even though he was a child, I just didn’t like him. Its so hard to write believable children in books sometimes and this is one case that fails. Cody is whiny, selfish and entitled and by the end I really didn’t care what happened to him. I found his POV moments to be distracting and I just really wanted to return to Bronte, Tennyson or Brewster as I felt they were the only characters to go through any real growth. Who they were at the start was different than who they were at the end.

This book will tough your heart strings and tug on them and fill you up with emotion. So many emotions. Even with the foreshadowing and the impending sense of dread that unfolds as you read (or listen) to the story and yet you can’t stop listening because you are filled with a burning desire to know what happens. Shusterman, as usual, has a gift with world building and storytelling that just sucks the reader in and won’t let them go until the story is over. Even then you are left with residuals and wonderings of what ifs as you think about where the story might go if it went on just a little longer. Bruiser is a story built on its characters and its such a strong cast. Its a book that I knew little about before picking it up and I was glad of that as the story unfolded. This was one of my favorite audios of 2014 and its a story that I highly recommend. There is something in it for everyone.

irishdarkblue

Irish Recommends - Bruiser

four-stars
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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Audio Review: Carter’s Unfocused One-Track Mind by Brent Crawford

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Audiobook, Review, Young Adult1 Comment

Audio Review: Carter’s Unfocused One-Track Mind by Brent CrawfordCarter's Unfocused One-Track Mind by Brent Crawford
Narrator: Nick Podehl
Series: Carter,
Also in this series: Carter's Big Break
Published by Brilliance Audio on 07 August 2012
Genres: Contemporary (No Romance Focus), Young Adult
Length: 8 hours 2 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: Carter's Big Break

Place(s) Traveled To: Merrian, Unknown (Somewhere in the Mid-West)

First Line(s): My fist slams into Andre’s ugly face, and he staggers back in shock.

I started Carter’s Unfocused One-Track Mind by Brent Crawford almost immediately after finishing Carter’s Big Break (my review). As with the previous book Crawford managed to to write another antics, angst and hilarious story that had me laughing one moment and groaning the next. Will Carter is your typical teenage boy and he’s just trying to struggle through dealing with social pressures, his on-again/off-again romance with Abby, football, drama the every day dramas of high school.

Carter and his friend get into their usual antics and there were moments in which I was almost crying with laughter. Which isn’t a good thing because I listened to this in the car and that can get dangerous. Nick Podehl, as with the previous book, was beyond excellent in his narration of the Carter’s Unfocused One-Track Mind. He does a fantastic job with the various dialogue’s but where he excels is in the asides and Carter’s internal monologues. Podehl is definitely on my narrator’s to watch list and I look foreward to trying out more of the books that’s he’s narrated.

What saddens me the most about this book is that it seems to be the last one in the Carter series. Crawford leaves the book open for the possibility of a fourth story and while I do want more Will Carter shenanigans I do have mixed feelings on where the next book would take us. Part of what makes these stories so much fun is the appearances of the carious secondary characters Will’s boys, his sister, and his parents. Its these various characters that really help to flesh out the story and make it more real. These books aren’t just about Will Carter but its about all of them and I love learning all the tidbits of their lives.

This story was fast paced and once you start it you don’t want to stop and I found myself driving around town just to listen to it more. Another thing that I love about this series is how its more about a group of friends than anything else. Yes, there is a small romance story line but its not the main focus of the book and that is refreshing in stories of today. There is no love triangles or outcasts who become the key to saving the world is just a boy and his friends and how they deal with every day life.

The Will Carter series by Brent Crawford is a series that I would recommend to anyone. Its a fun series and I think that the audio version of it really enhances the whole listening experience. This is also an audio series that I think I’ll listen to on more than one occasion during those times when I just need a laugh. This is how much I enjoyed the story and how entertaining I found it and I think that you will too.

irishdarkblue

four-stars
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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Audio Review: Carter’s Big Break by Brent Crawford

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Audiobook, Review, Young Adult3 Comments

Audio Review: Carter’s Big Break by Brent CrawfordCarter's Big Break by Brent Crawford
Narrator: Nick Podehl
Series: Carter, Book 2
Also in this series: Carter's Unfocused One-Track Mind
Published by Brilliance Audio on 10 May 2011
Genres: Contemporary (No Romance Focus), Young Adult
Length: 6 hours 38 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: Carter's Unfocused One-Track Mind

Place(s) Traveled To: Merrian, Unknown (Somewhere in the Mid-West)

First Line(s): On the last day of school, I’m happily strolling down the hall after Mr. Rumpford’s ridiculously hard algebra final.

Carter’s Big Break by Brent Crawford picks up not long after the events of Carter Finally Gets It and if I am honest before starting this book I really didn’t remember much of the first book. I read it in a rush to meet my reading goal one year and I remember that I enjoyed it so decided to just jump right into the next book. Carter’s Big Break is told entirely from the point of view of Will Carter, a 15 year old boy, and it is both hilarious and utterly cringe worthy. If you’ve ever wanted to know what is going on in the head of a teenage boy then this is the series for you.

This audio had me cracking up throughout the story as Carter and “his boys” just dealt with the struggles of teen life. There are also moments that are classic Will Carter and as Leila Roy wrote in her Amazon review of the book this is ‘a situation in which the reader wanted to hide her eyes because she knew what horrifically embarrassing event was about to occur. In which she said, aloud, to the book, “Carter. No. No no no no no. Please, don’t say it. Dooooon’t saaaaaay iiiiiit, just don’t saaa–. Oh, hell. You dumbass.”‘ Which I really couldn’t have said it any better and as a reader I totally did this on several occasions as you just can’t stop Carter from doing something stupid. But even as he’s sticking his foot in his mouth he’s always making you laugh and as a reader you feel a bit of relief that its him and not you that is experiencing these moments.

These moments of awkward hilarity are further made all the more real by Nick Podehl’s narration. He is not just Will Carter but every teen boy ever. His narration was one of the best that I’ve listened to. Ever. He did all the voices really well but where he shined was in Carter’s inner monologues. These are often really straight forward things in books but Podehl add just the right amount of emotion and even crazy asides as Carter realizes he’s about to do/say something idiotic just moments before he says it. You can easily tell what is straight narration and what are actual thoughts that Carter is thinking and all this is all easily set apart from the various conversations that Carter has during the course of the book.

Carter’s Big Break also had some entertaining moments in its very thinly disguised pop culture references. I enjoyed Crawford’s take on incorporating these well known things in a way that won’t make the book feel too dated too quickly. As there will always be a boy band and teen movie/singing stars that just want to be treated as a serious entity. It also added a slight guessing game into the book trying to figure out just who Crawford might be referencing at any given time. It was also fun to see how Carter could easily move between hanging out on a movie set to just chilling with his friends. He’s such an adaptable person that it makes you wish that you were a little like him….even with all his awkward moments. It was nice to see Carter mature over the course of the Carter’s Big Break and while he is still very much a teen boy by the end he’s also not quite the kid that he was at the start of the first book. Crawford really does a great job in showing how kids become adults over the course of his books and its a good thing for all parents to see when they might despair their wee one every growing out of certain phases. Although, boys will always be boys and while they might grow up into adults if you get enough of them together and give them a bag of fireworks they might still burn the whole world down if given half a chance.

Often, when I love an audio I will be happy if my thoughts can just influence someone to pick up the book and read it. But in the case of Carter’s Big Break I think that audio just brings the story to a whole new level. As I said at the start, I don’t really remember much of what happened in Carter Finally Gets It. I read that as an ebook and it all just sort of blends in with other books I’ve read, especially ones from a teen boys perspective. But with Carter’s Big Break I remember so much more. This whole world and all the characters that live inside it are just so much more real. Once I finished Carter’s Big Break I couldn’t wait to start on the audio of the third book, Carter’s Unfocused One-Track Mind. This is one series that I think is made better for being an audio and I really wish I’d experienced the first book in this format and may just go out and buy the audio of it just to do so. I’m also really looking forward to seeing what other books Nick Podehl has narrated as I think he’s going to become a favorite narrator of mine.

irishdarkblue

four-stars
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