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Publisher: Brilliance Audio

Friday, July 8, 2016

Audio Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Audiobook, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Audio Review: Six of Crows by Leigh BardugoSix of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Narrator: Brandon Rubin, David LeDoux, Elizabeth Evans, Jay Snyder, Lauren Fortgang, Roger Clark, Tristan Morris
Series: Six of Crows,
Published by Brilliance Audio on 29 Sept 2015
Genres: Abduction, Action & Adventure, Assassins, Death & Dying, Diseases, Emotions & Feelings, Epic Fantasy, Espionage, Friendship, Health & Daily Living, Illnesses & Injuries, Mystery & Detective, People of Color, Politics & Intrigue, Road Trip, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Suspense, Witches & Wizards, Young Adult
Length: 15 hrs and 9 mins
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible.com
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: Shadow & Bone, Summer Days and Summer Nights

Place(s) Traveled To: Ketterdam, Kerch // Dierholm, Fjerda

First Line(s): Joost had two problems: the moon and his mustache.

Narrators: Jay Snyder (Matthias), David LeDoux (Kaz), Brandon Rubin (Jesper), Lauren Fortgang (Inej), Roger Clark (Pekka), Elizabeth Evans (Nina), and Tristan Morris (Joost)

Confession time, although this won’t come as a surprise to some, but I did not like SHADOW & BONE (my review). It was such a struggle to get through and I just couldn’t be bothered with the other books in that series. So when I heard that Leigh Bardugo’s next series was also set in the Grisha universe I wasn’t sure if I would read SIX OF CROWS. But I was curious and so I kept sussing out what people thought about it and then when I was looking for a new audiobook it just up and stumbled into my basket. The SIX OF CROWS audio is a full cast recording and uses different narrators for each POV. I was intrigued by this and it wasn’t long before the story grabbed a hold of me in a way that SHADOW & BONE never did.

Curiosity

I’ll admit SIX OF CROWS did start a little slow but it wasn’t long before I was engrossed in the story. I loved how all the different narrators approached this story and the life that they gave to these characters. Each narrator really helped bring out the personality of the characters, not just the one of the POV they were acting out but all the characters that they voiced. It was interesting to see how the narrators saw the others in this motley crew and I never had any issues figuring out who was who. I also found it  very help to listen to the audio as I’m sure I’d have stumbled over many of the names and words used in this book.

Six of Crows Quote

At its heart SIX OF CROWS is a heist story and if you like a good heist story then you will like this book. There is intrigue and betrayal and a whole lot of shenanigans. But its also a story of friendship, of family, and of finding oneself despite all of the odds. Its a coming of age story and its even a love story on some levels. There really is something for everyone in SIX OF CROWS and its fast paced enough to keep the reader on the edge of their seat. I know that I spent every free moment I could listening to this audio because once I became invested in this story I couldn’t stop listening. I just wanted to know more and when I hit the end I was bereft because it was over.

Another thing I like about SIX OF CROWS is that it has an ending. Oh there are still things that are left to be done and even a wee cliff hanger but you know were most of the players stand and you see the set up for things that will happen in CROOKED KINGDOM. But best of all, its not predictable. I have no idea where this story is going I just have my hopes and my fears on what Bardugo is going to go. SIX OF CROWS is an intricately woven story and I h ave no doubts that CROOKED KINGDOM is going to be the same. There are twists and turns around every corner and a whole lot of heartache and shenanigans ahead.

I did not expect to like SIX OF CROWS as much as I did. I wasn’t even sure that I would read it. But I am so very very glad that I did because I was so engrossed in this story. For me, its a whole different style and delivery than SHADOW & BONE. The characters have more depth and they are smart and feisty and while flawed they aren’t broken. Bardugo weaves in the history of the Grisha world and the backstorys of this crews expertly in the story that there are no slow info dump moments. SIX OF CROWS is definitely a story that can be read independently of SHADOW & BONE. So if you haven’t gotten around to reading that one yet, or if you are like me and you didn’t like it all that much I would say that you can easily pick this one up and know what is going on with the world and not be lost.

thumbs up

irishdarkblue

IR - Six of Crows

Add The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Heist Society by Ally Carter to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

four-stars
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Monday, February 9, 2015

Audio Review: Going Rogue by Robin Benway

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Audiobook, Review, Young Adult2 Comments

Audio Review: Going Rogue by Robin BenwayGoing Rogue by Robin Benway
Narrator: Robin Benway
Series: Also Known As, Book 2
Also in this series: Also Known As
Published by Brilliance Audio on 14 January 2014
Genres: Action & Adventure, Adolescence, Contemporary Romance, Espionage, Friendship, Love & Romance, Mystery & Detective, Social Issues, Young Adult
Length: 7 hours 22 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: Also Known As, Emmy & Oliver

Place(s) Traveled To: New York, New York // Paris, France

First Line(s): In September 2004, French police discovered a hidden chamber in the catacombs under Paris.

Going Rogue is the follow-up to Robin Benway’s girl spy story Also Known As and it picks up not long after the first book ends.  Maggie is living the life that she thought she always wanted that of a normal high school teenager. Only being normal isn’t all that its cracked up to be and Maggie finds herself missing her days as a spy. Then something happens and soon her parents are accused of crimes they didn’t commit and the whole agency, known as the Collective, that they work for seems to be crumbling around them. Its then up to Maggie and her good friend Roux to try and clear her parents names and to save the day.

As with the first book I found myself engrossed in the story and couldn’t wait to see what happened next. There were times when things seemed a little over the top and unbelievable but Benway makes it all work. Going Rogue has such a great cast that you are willing to suspend a little bit of belief because they all seem so real. I loved getting to know the characters from the old book better and meeting new ones along the way. I also liked how this book took us from New York to Paris and was just such a fast paced, unputdownable read.

Going Rogue Quote

Like the first book, Going Rogue, was narrated by the author and overall I think that she did a good job. Although I did find that her Australian and Irish accents weren’t the best. In fact, they made me cringe a little but I have heard worse and you have to admire an author who is able to carry the narration so well as you don’t typically see authors as narrators.

Going Rogue was a fast-paced story that will have you on the edge of your seat. Its a fun book filled with lots of snark and laugh out loud moments. Its a book that I was sad to see end and its one of those books that I’d like to see more installments of. I think that there is still more story to tell plus I am just not ready to let go of these characters and this quirky, spy-filled world that they live in.

 

irishdarkblue

IR - Going Rogue

four-stars
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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, August 24, 2014

Audio Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Adult, Audiobook, Review3 Comments

Audio Review: The Martian by Andy WeirThe Martian by Andy Weir
Narrator: R. C. Bray
Published by Brilliance Audio on 22 March 2013
Genres: Action & Adventure, Adult, Contemporary (No Romance Focus), Death & Dying, Emotions & Feelings, Health & Daily Living, People & Places, Sci-Fi, Survival Stories
Length: 10 hours 53 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible.com
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Acidalia Planitia, Mars // Cape Canaveral, Florida // Pasadena, California // Schiaparelli Crater, Mars // Arabia Terra, Mars

First Line(s): I’m pretty much fucked. That’s my considered opinion. Fucked.

I first heard about The Martian by Andy Weir through the Goodreads status updates of my friend David over at From My Bookshelf and it had him on the edge of his seat. Looking for a new audio I decided to download this one and give it a go. From the opening lines I was hooked and became totally engrossed in the story. The story starts not long after Mark Watney is left for dead on Mars after his team had to abandon their mission and Watney’s suit was damaged and he was knocked out in their escape. When Watney wakes he must then figure out a plan to stay alive for 4 years when the next mission to Mars is set to arrive. A daunting task for both Watney and those listening along as he works through many a problem just to survive.

The Martian is a book where you do have to suspend a bit of belief in order to read it as we aren’t so advanced as of yet to send manned missions to Mars. And of course there is Watney’s ability to figure out and manipulate things just so in order to get him through another day. But despite how implausible some of the events might seem the story never comes across as anything but real. I loved Watney’s way of telling a story and its really brought to life by RC Bray. Bray was the perfect choice for Watney and I loved his narration style. I loved how he brought out all the humor in this book and his delivery was spot on. There were lots of little quips and comments throughout The Martian and I think that they really came across better in the audio than if I’d read them in print. Plus there was all that tech-speak which, even though I’m scientifically minded, might have gotten a bit overwhelming and boring after awhile but listening to it just made it all the more fascinating.

Weir often uses a stream of conscious type of narration when telling this story and while this is something that normally bothers me royally in a book I didn’t mind it as much here. There was very much in the moment things that happened that I think if it was Weir looking back would have lost some of its edge. And there is also random changing of view points and that is also something that will bother me in a story but its something that works here. There is just something comforting in how the POV will switch to people at NASA knowing that they are working on the problem to bring one man home when it would be so easy to just cut their losses. I know that seems harsh and callous but its not an easy thing to try to perform a rescue mission when the rescuee is trapped on a planet light years away!

For most of this book I was on the edge of my seat. I’d find reasons to drive around just to hear more of the story with my heart racing the whole time. Its a book that even though you hope for a happy ending you just aren’t sure that you are going to get one and I just love when that happens in a book. The Martian is the sort of book that will appeal to all those that loved the movie Apollo 13 as they two stories share many similarities. This is a book that if it hadn’t come to me so highly recommended from a friend I might have passed on it but once I started it I was hooked. Its a book where I think that the audio is truly the way to go in order to get all the nuances, all the tension and humor and the beautiful way that Weir tells a story. Weir’s debut isn’t perfect but I love how he crafted his story. This is an author that I am looking forward to reading more stories from.

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.irishdarkblue

 

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The Martian2
four-stars
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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Audio Review: Also Known As by Robin Benway

Posted by Irish in 5 Stars, Audiobook, Review, Young Adult1 Comment

Audio Review: Also Known As by Robin BenwayAlso Known As by Robin Benway
Narrator: Robin Benway
Series: Also Known As,
Also in this series: Going Rogue
Published by Brilliance Audio on 26 February 2013
Genres: Action & Adventure, Adolescence, Espionage, Friendship, Love & Romance, Mystery & Detective, Parents, Social Issues, Thrillers, Young Adult
Length: 6 hours 58 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible.com
Buy on Audible
Goodreads
five-stars
Also by this author: Going Rogue, Emmy & Oliver

Place(s) Traveled To: Reykjavik, Iceland // New York, New York

First Line(s): I cracked my first lock when I was three.

Also Known As by Robin Benway is the sort of book that I always wished that Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girls books were. Also Known As features Maggie a teenage girl who is the daughter of spies and as a result she was raised to be a spy as well. Unlike with Cammie we aren’t constantly told how amazing she is but instead we are shown all the little ways that make Maggie a great spy. But throughout it all we are faced with her doubts and her anxieties as she’s torn between being a good spy and trying to live a normal life. Something which has always been denied her because of the lives that her parents live.

The story is fast paced and entertaining and I loved meeting Maggie, Roux, Jesse, Angelo and Maggie’s parents. Though Maggie’s parents did bug me a lot because they refused to see the things that their daughter was missing out on so that they could live the life they wanted. They were selfish and would dismiss Maggie when she said that she wanted some stability and most of all, friends. Both of her parents lived a normal life prior to becoming spies and while there are great opportunities that Maggie had and she saw some amazing things she missed out on a lot as well. This is something she starts to realize as she attends school for the first time, makes her first friend, and begins to fall in love. Maggie’s struggles between what she knew and what she wants were real and heartfelt and really showed growth and change as the story progressed.

Also Known As is a fun read and I liked the humor and mystery of it all. I could have done without always being told that Maggie was an excellent safe cracker and that made her super special because to me I didn’t see how just that one skill made it so people wanted to kidnap her. Now if she was a talented hacker like her mom and had the language skills of her dad coupled with her safe cracking ability I could understand it more. But just safe cracking? I just didn’t see it.

The mystery in Also Known As wasn’t the most complex and the clues weren’t laid out the best but the mystery portion is almost secondary to Maggie’s journey. Its Maggie that made me fall in love with this story and the humor that she brought to every day situations. I loved her friendship with Roux and I loved seeing Roux blossom as she got to know Maggie. Prior to Maggie’s arrival Roux was once the school’s queen be but then she made a mistake and became the victim of bullying (and still is in the book) which affected her greatly. And then there was Jesse Oliver, Maggie’s love interest, who is really just too sweet for words and I loved listening to these two fall in love.

Also Known As is one of the first books that I’ve listened to that was narrated by the author and I have to say that Robin Benway did an excellent job bringing her story to life. Benway’s narration was better than some professional narrators I’ve listened to and I never had any issues knowing who was speaking when. All the characters had distinct voices that it was easy to picture them as I listened to this audio. For me, Benway became Maggie and Roux and Jesse and I found myself wanting to listen to this audio every chance I could. Because it was a fun story and it was told well.

If you are a fan of the Gallagher Girls series and looking for something to check out next then you’ll want to pick up this book. And if you are a fan of audiobooks than I highly recommend listening to this one. You’ll laugh and you’ll cringe and you might cry a little as you laugh some more as Maggie and her friends run around New York trying to save the day and survive high school all at the same time.

irishdarkblue

five-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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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Audio Review: Fallout by Todd Strasser

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Audiobook, Middle Grade, Review1 Comment

Audio Review: Fallout by Todd StrasserFallout by Todd Strasser
Narrator: Jeff Cummings
Published by Brilliance Audio on 10 September 2013
Genres: Historical, Middle Grade
Length: 4 hours 53 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Hudson Bay, New York (1962)

First Line(s): I wake to a hand on my shoulder. Dad’s voice is urgent. “Get up, Scott!”

I have been reading several middle grade novels that seem to defy my expectation on what middle grade should be. I usually expect the stories to be less intense and less serious than a young adult or adult story. However, recent middle grade reads has proven me wrong in this the latest of which, Fallout by Todd Strasser is a crazy roller coaster ride of emotion and what ifs. Fallout is told in a non-linear format in which each chapter moves from the present (1962) and the near past – the summer before the main events in the story. The story hinges around Scott and the bomb shelter that his father builds in the backyard. A thing that all the neighbors scoff at until there comes a day when a bomb does drop on their town.

What follows is this crazy, fast-paced story that will leave a reader a bit breathless. While the jumps to the near past do break up the story sometimes they are a needed break from the events and emotions that are going on in the bomb shelter. As the night that the bomb fell several neighbors beat and bullied Scott’s father into letting them inside. Its tense in the shelter as it was built and stocked for 4 people and now there are almost a dozen. Including the horrible, douchbag Mr McGovern who I spent the entire book just wanting to punch him in the face. A more self-entitled, self-rightous, and just all out selfish person I’ve never encountered before.

Along with a decent story what made this book was the narrator, Jeff Cummings, who does an excellent job in bringing this story to life. While some of the voices would sometimes blend together Cummings always infused just the right amount of emotion into any given scene. Cummings helped make the scenes just a bit more tense and helps bring the listener right there into the bunker with all the other characters. Cummings is one of those narrators that I will not mind listening to in other stories in the future.

Where Fallout kind of lost me was in its ending which was a bit too open ended for my liking. Yes, there is a device I normally don’t mind in a story as I do like to think about where I would like a story to go. Fallout is just one of those stories where I would have liked to have seen just a little bit more for Strasser to go just a little bit farther in the telling of what happened next. Although the way this story ends does lend itself to the potential of a sequel so maybe there will be one at some unknown point down the line. If there is, then you can be sure that this reader will be checking it out.

irishdarkblue

four-stars
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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Audio Review: Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Audiobook, Review, Young Adult1 Comment

Audio Review: Shadow & Bone by Leigh BardugoShadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Narrator: Lauren Fortang
Series: The Grisha,
Published by Brilliance Audio on 30 November 2012
Genres: Fantasy, Mystery & Detective, Young Adult
Length: 8 hours 55 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
three-stars
Also by this author: Summer Days and Summer Nights, Six of Crows

Place(s) Traveled to: Os Alta, Ravka // Kribirsk, Ravka // Novokribirsk, Ravka // Petrazoi, Ravka // Ryevost, Ravka

First Line(s): The Servants called them malenchki, little ghosts because they were the smallest and the youngest, and because they haunted the Duke’s house like giggling phantoms, darting in and out of rooms, hiding in cupboards to eavesdrop, sneaking into the kitchen to steal the last of the summer peaches.

 Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo is one of those book with which I’m having a hard time finding the words that best reflect my thoughts. Shadow & Bone is one that I thought that I would like more than I did and its one that took me forever to get into. I finally made the switch from print to audio and was able to move past the opener and it all was sort of middle of the road from there.

Halfway through the book I wrote this note on Goodreads:

Plot = Non-existant

Alina = Boy crazy

Jenya = a minda reader as she’s always answering thoughts in Alina’s head

Mal = absent

the Darkling = boring and cliche

I think that the only thing that kept me listening to this story until the end was the narrator, Lauren Fortang. Who somehow managed to make the story a tad more interesting than it was. There were also lots of Russian-eske names that she pronounced far better than I ever could in my mind. I liked Fortang’s style and the various voices she used for all the characters. Even if there were times when she mixed up tone and intonation of one character with another. Overall, though she is definitely a narrator that I won’t mind listening to again.

Just not for this series.

There was no plot and nothing happened until the last part of the book where Mal shows up and randomly declares his love, Alina finally gets a clue and the Darkling makes long speeches and never once shows the fearful nature that he is supposed to embody. He was just such a cliche of every bad guy out there and not even the best parts of them.

Shadow & Bone was a book that tells more than it shows. There is no discover or things for the reader to figure out as everything is presented. The dialogue scenes tend to be a bit ridiculous and over the top as well. All the Russian elements also felt a bit forced and fake and even made me cringe a time or two. The concept of Shadow & Bone was interesting but for me it never lived up. For me, Shadow & Bone is an average read and not one that I’d rush to recommend to those looking for a fantasy story. As of this posting I am unsure on if I will continue on in this series as there is just so much else out there to read. Have you read Siege & Storm do things improve dramatically? If so, then let me know and maybe…just maybe I’ll give it a shot.

irishdarkblue

three-stars
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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Audio Review: Moxie and the Art of Rule Breaking by Erin Dionne

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Audiobook, Contest, Middle Grade, Review1 Comment

Audio Review: Moxie and the Art of Rule Breaking by Erin DionneMoxie and the Art of Rule Breaking by Erin Dionne
Narrator: Amy McFadden
Series: 14 Day Mystery,
Published by Brilliance Audio on 11 July 2013
Genres: Middle Grade, Mystery & Detective
Length: 6 hours 21 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars

 

Place(s) Traveled to:  Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts // Boston, Massachusetts

First Line(s): You know that line about being “saved by the bell?”  Well, its a lie.

14 Day Mystery  Series Order:
Book 1 – Moxie and the Art of Rule Breaking
Book 2 – Ollie and the Science of Treasure Hunting
Book 3 – Untitled

Anyone who has spent any real length of time in Massachusetts, and probably New England, has heard about the art heist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. If not, then just click here to read all the details. Its such a fascinating and baffling case that will most likely remain unsolved and so I was so excited to hear that Erin Dionne was writing a book about it. Moxie and the Art of Rule Breaking is a great what if book based on the whole Gardner Museum heist and Boston’s infamous gangster history. In Moxie, her grandfather used to do side jobs for the mob using his carpentry skills to hide hot pieces until the heat wore off and the goods could be more easily moved. He was hired to hide the stolen pieces from the Gardner Museum and then he never told the ones that pulled off the crime where they were.

Years pass and now Moxie finds herself confronted with an emissary from Sully Cupcakes (the art thief) who tells her that she has just 2 weeks to find and give the pieces over to Sully…or else. Moxie is a feisty and head-strong girl and so she dives into this mystery head first and if truth be told not always looking where she is going first. Fortunately, she has her BFF Ollie to help her out and help to keep her grounded as the pressure starts to mount. I loved the friendship between Moxie and Ollie and I loved how while they didn’t always get along they always knew deep down that they were the very best of friends who would do anything for the other. Even if those things involved a little breaking and entering.

Moxie is smart and funny and I loved how she used logic and a math proof to help her work through figuring out the mystery. Even if the whole math proof portion of the story made my eye twitch a little….I love math…but proofs…I was never a fan. lol I also loved how close Moxie was to her mom and grandparents. Her relationship with them was so realistic…even when she was keeping secrets and sneaking around. I enjoyed how Moxie is at that age where she’s still young and innocent but is also starting to become a young adult and gain new freedoms – like the ability to head into Town (aka Boston with only her BFF) – and how she is also starting to test those rules and see how much she can get away with. Then dealing with the consequences when she gets caught. I do love a book with consequences.

The mystery itself was a bit unrealistic at times as I don’t see two kids being able to do all the things that they did in the story. On the other hand though, it was fast paced and fun and if I suspended belief a bit then it did feel real. The only way to know for sure would be to try and break in to Fenway or the State House on my own…but as I am not as coordinated as Moxie then I don’t think I’ll be trying that out anytime soon. lol

Another fun thing that I loved about Moxie was Dionne’s use of vocabulary words. She doesn’t talk down to her intended audience and works in big and semi-complicated words in a way that doesn’t make it seem like you are learning anything. She not only tosses them into the dialogue and inner monologue but she works in the definition is a clean, non-info dump kind of way. Which for me, took away from the horrors that the memory of math proofs brought to mind.

Moxie was a really fun book with a quick and easy mystery that really sweeps the reader along. The characters are all realistic and they make you wish that they were real so that you could know them in real life. I’m excited that there will be more mysteries to come that feature Ollie and Moxie as I hated for this book to end. This was a fun read and one that I think young teens and adults can both enjoy.

About the Narrator:

Amy McFadden was a new narrator to me and I really enjoyed the style that she used for Moxie. She managed to do a Boston accent in such a way that made me believe she was from the heart of the city. All too often I am left cringing a bit when someone does a Boston accent as its just so over the top. There were times when it was hard to tell who was speaking when but overall I think McFadden did a good job telling this story. This may have been the first time I listened to a book narrated by McFadden but I don’t think will be the last.

Contest:

Enter to win a signed hardcover copy of Moxie and the Art of Rule Breaking by Erin Dionne. US/Canada only.

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irishdarkblue

four-stars
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