Archive for the ‘Audiobooks’ Category

Review of The Hollow Boy audiobook, by Jonathan Stroud

Thursday, September 1st, 2016

hollow_boy_audio_largeThe Hollow Boy

Lockwood & Co., Book Three

by Jonathan Stroud
read by Emily Bevan

Listening Library, 2015. 12 hours on 10 compact discs.
Starred Review

Today I finished listening to the audiobook of Lockwood & Co. Book Three — and ordered the hardback edition of Lockwood & Co. Book Four! I love this timing. If I remember right, they did the same thing last year — brought out the audiobook of the last volume a few months before the next volume was coming out in print. Listening to the audiobook version is the perfect way to prepare for the next book coming out!

It’s a series, and you do need to read the books in order, so I shouldn’t say too much about later volumes — but rereading Book Three gives me an excuse to rave about the series again.

My only complaint about the audiobook versions is that so far each volume has had a different reader. But it had been a year since I listened to Volume Two, and I liked the reader of Volume Three a lot. I don’t know a lot about British accents, but I did gather that she gave Lucy a working-class accent, which is appropriate. And Holly Munroe even sounded annoyingly perfect.

I’m struck again by how brilliant the writing is. All the emotions and relationships are done by showing rather than telling — and so realistic. We never find out exactly what age they are, but they’re kids, young teens — and Lucy clearly is attracted to her friend Anthony Lockwood and loves working with him and values their team. And then this perfectly together young woman gets hired while she’s out of town having a disappointing trip back with her family. And Lockwood and George like the way Holly is so perfect and together and annoyingly feminine.

And oh my goodness, I relate to Lucy maybe a little too much.

And that part isn’t even the focus of the story, which is about an outbreak of ghosts in Chelsea. George, ever the brilliant researcher, figures out that DEPRAC forces are looking in the wrong place, and Lockwood & Co. tackle a frighteningly powerful entity.

Meanwhile, Lucy’s power of communicating with Visitors is getting stronger all the time. But it’s unprecedented, and she doesn’t think the normal rules should apply. However, just because she can communicate with ghosts doesn’t necessarily mean she should.

I am so excited that the next volume comes out September 13!

listeninglibrary.com

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/hollow_boy_audio.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library audiobook from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of File Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents

Friday, July 1st, 2016

file_under_13_suspicious_incidents_largeFile Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents

by Lemony Snicket
with various readers

Hachette Audio, 2014. 3 hours on 3 CDs.
Starred Review

This audiobook continues Lemony Snicket’s series All the Wrong Questions set in the strange deserted town of Stain’d-by-the-Sea. However, this is a side file to the case in the main series. Here are thirteen short mystery tales, some more bizarre than others. You don’t at all need to have read the original books – many of the characters are new. Some we’ve seen before, but knowing them ahead of time is not crucial to any of the short cases.

The audiobook has two flaws. The first is that there are 13 wonderful narrators, but it isn’t announced on the audiobook who is reading at any given time. I should have read the label on the CD before inserting it, but I wasn’t going to do that while driving in the car. All the narrators did a great job, but it would have been fun to know when I was listening to Jon Scieszka, Terry Gross, Sarah Vowell, Libba Bray, Ira Glass, Sophie Blackall, Jon Klassen, Chris Kluwe, Holly Black, Sook-Yin Lee, Rachel Maddow, Stephin Merritt, or Wesley Stace.

The other annoying thing is that the conclusions to each short mystery were all given at the end of the third audiobook. But before the conclusions are three stories. So there’s no way to check on the answer to a mystery right after finishing that mystery. If the conclusions had their own CD, I could have popped that in and listened to some conclusions before continuing on. Of course, in the print book, one could just check the back of the book after each mystery. As it turned out, the entire book wasn’t very long, so I found I could mostly remember what was involved in the story once I heard the conclusion. Honestly, there probably isn’t a good way to do this on audio CDs. I would have liked a separate CD for the conclusions – but that would add to the cost.

Other than that, these were totally fun mystery stories. They reminded me of Encyclopedia Brown – with a lot more variety, and a touch of silliness here and there. This would be a great one to suggest to kids who like mysteries, and they don’t need to read the longer 4-volume series, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they turn to that next.

LemonySnicketLibrary.com
HachetteAudio.com

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/file_under_13_suspicious_incidents.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library audiobook from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of Seveneves, by Neal Stephenson

Saturday, April 30th, 2016

seveneves_largeSEVENEVES

by Neal Stephenson
performed by Mary Robinette Kowal and Will Damron

Brilliance Audio, 2015. 32 hours on 25 discs.

When I told a coworker how much I liked The Martian, he recommended Seveneves. I’d long meant to read some Neal Stephenson, so I took on the project, listening in the car over the course of more than a month. (Fortunately, no one had a hold on the audiobook before I finished.)

First, the good things. This book, like The Martian, has a huge emphasis on technology. Almost all of it is made to sound plausible, with facts given in context and people using actual science to solve their problems.

And they are truly formidable problems! The situation in the book is this: Something (called “the Agent”) from outer space blasted through the moon and blew it into pieces. At first, people just think of it as an amazing curiosity in the night sky. But then a collision happens between two pieces of the moon – and scientists realize that there are going to be more and more collisions until finally, in about three years, the earth’s atmosphere will be filled with meteorites and everything on earth will be incinerated. This “hard rain” will last about five thousand years.

So – the people of earth begin making plans. They’re going to send up pods that can be attached to the International Space Station and try to save humanity by sending people into orbit.

More than half the book concerns these efforts of making a place for humanity to survive on the International Space Station. Then we fast forward five thousand years when their descendants begin to go back to New Earth.

I’m afraid I’m not crazy about this book. But once I’d listened to hours and hours, you can be sure I figured I might as well finish. The book is rather depressing. Besides the 7 billion people who die on earth, there are occasional scenes of gruesome violence. This book doesn’t paint a nice picture of the human race. You’d think with such high stakes, people would work together a little better.

I’m sure the science is well-researched – but I didn’t buy it at every stage. Supposedly the human race survives in space after getting down to seven living women (the Seven Eves). This is with the help of state-of-the-art genetic engineering equipment, but that was still something of a stretch. I also wasn’t sure I believed that after five thousand years there would still be seven distinct races.

And five thousand years later, ready to move back onto the planet, humans are at war with one another. There’s a huge Cold War going on between certain sets of races. Depressing to think that humans would have learned nothing in five thousand years.

Of course, the whole premise of the book runs counter to a Christian world view. Indeed, in the book after the destruction of earth, all religions die out among humans. Because 7 billion people died.

So this is indeed an interesting book because of the technology described. The story does have many moments of tension and amazing but plausible overcoming of great odds. But if you’re looking for heart-warming, definitely look somewhere else.

nealstephenson.com

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Fiction/seveneves.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of The War That Saved My Life, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Saturday, April 23rd, 2016

war_that_saved_my_life_largeThe War that Saved my Life

by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
read by Jayne Entwistle

Listening Library, 2015. 7.5 hours on 6 compact discs.
Starred Review
2016 Newbery Honor Book
2016 Odyssey Award Winner
2016 Schneider Family Award Winner

I always try to listen to the Odyssey Award winner, since it is given to the best children’s or young adult audiobook of the year. This year, the winner was also a Newbery Honor book and a Schneider Family Award winner, so I already knew it was something special. First, I got to listen to Echo, which was also a Newbery Honor book but the only Odyssey Honor audiobook. It was so good, it was hard to imagine an audiobook being chosen above it.

Even with that much build-up, when I listened to The War that Saved my Life, I was not at all disappointed. This was one of the few audiobooks that, when I got to the last CD, I brought the book into the house to finish listening, rather than wait until the morning and my next trip to work. It was way too good to wait!

I should say a word about the narrator, Jayne Entwistle. I’ve listened to other books she’s read, The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place and >As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust. I always enjoy her distinctive voice. Now, I do enjoy almost all English accents, but Jayne Entwistle does an excellent precocious little girl. And she does a fine job making the voices of the various characters distinctive. In this case, she didn’t need to do as many voices as in The Scandalous Sisterhood, and she put just the right character into each of the voices she did portray.

The story in The War that Saved my Life is heart-wrenching. The story is told by Ada Smith. She’s got a club foot, though at the beginning of the book, she doesn’t know that’s what it’s called. She only knows that her foot is disgusting, according to her Mam, and she’s not to let anyone see her. She must stay in their one-room apartment in London.

It’s bearable for Ada when she has her little brother Jamie to watch over. But as Jamie’s getting old enough to go to school, he’s also old enough to start playing outside. Ada’s heart is torn being alone in the apartment. So she decides to teach herself to walk.

Not long after, they learn that London children are going to be evacuated to the country because bombs will be coming from Hitler. Mam hasn’t decided if she’ll send Jamie. Ada asks about herself.

Mam still didn’t look at me. “Course not. They’re sending kids to live with nice people. Who’d want you? Nobody, that’s who. Nice people don’t want to look at that foot.”

“I could stay with nasty people,” I said. “Wouldn’t be any different than living here.”

I saw the slap coming, but didn’t duck fast enough. “None of your sass,” she said. Her mouth twisted into the smile that made my insides clench. “You can’t leave. You never will. You’re stuck here, right here in this room, bombs or no.”

All of that happens in the first two chapters.

But Ada decides then and there that she will leave with Jamie. Her Mam doesn’t know she can walk, and Ada steals Mam’s shoes and sneaks out with Jamie to get there early on the day the children are evacuated.

Once they’re in the country, Ada and Jamie are indeed the last ones picked. The “iron-faced” woman in charge takes them to the home of Susan Smith. Susan doesn’t want children. She is mourning the loss of her “very dear friend” Becky, who lived with her and kept horses.

There’s still a pony named Butter out in the field, and Ada is fascinated with it. The story that follows shows us clearly how Ada’s life is saved. Susan’s and Jamie’s lives are changed along the way.

Words can’t adequately describe this book and how brilliantly the story is woven. The two short chapters at the beginning prepare us for how deprived Ada is, but it’s more fully revealed as she comes out of the room and copes with the country.

Here’s a bit from their ride on the train:

The buildings ended and suddenly there was green. Green everywhere. Bright, vibrant, astonishing green, floating into the air toward the blue, blue sky. I stared, mesmerized. “What’s that?”

“Grass,” Jamie said.

Grass?” He knew about this green? There wasn’t any grass on our lane, nor nothing like it that I’d ever seen. I knew green from clothing or cabbages, not from fields.

Jamie nodded. “It’s on the ground. Spikey stuff, but soft, not prickly. There’s grass in the churchyard. Round the headstones. And trees, like that over there.” He pointed out the window.

Trees were tall and thin, like stalks of celery, only giant-sized. Bursts of green on top. “When were you in a churchyard?” I asked. What’s a churchyard? I might have asked next. There was no end to the things I didn’t know.

Later on, it seems utterly realistic that, rather than being grateful, Ada gets frustrated and annoyed with all the things Susan tells her, full of words she doesn’t know. When Susan makes a beautiful dress for Ada for Christmas, she has a complete meltdown, unable to feel that something so nice can be for her.

But most of the book is filled with little victories. Ada learns to use crutches. She learns to care for Butter. She learns how to go among people and makes friends.

And the backdrop of all this is the war, which does come even to the countryside. And the looming question of what will happen when Ada has to go back?

This is a beautiful book. Even though I listened to it, I’m going to keep my Advance Reader Copy, because I am going to want to treasure Ada’s story again. I’m sure I’ll notice subtle emotional cues I didn’t catch the first time.

How can I tell children about this wonderful book? I may decide to play up the bombs and spies (Yes, they are both in there). This is ultimately a book about the value found in every person and how love can save your life.

kimberlybrubakerbradley.com
listeninglibrary.com

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/war_that_saved_my_life.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library audiobook from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of Dog Train, by Sandra Boynton

Saturday, January 23rd, 2016

dog_train_largeDog Train

Music by Sandra Boynton & Michael Ford
Lyrics and drawings by Sandra Boynton

Workman Publishing, New York, 2005. 64 pages. 16 songs.
Starred Review

I so love Sandra Boynton’s songbooks and CDs. How did I not know about this one until now?

What I love about her songs is the wonderful child-centered lyrics – treated with complete seriousness. I can so easily imagine a child in a Broadway musical bursting into song with “Wave Bye Bye” or “Broccoli” or “I Need a Nap” telling Mom what to do. (Time to leave the party. “Don’t give me that broccoli. Yes, I know I’ve never tried it, but it doesn’t look right. I want no brocc’li tonight.” And “I Need a Nap” speaks for itself, but to hear the plaintive singing! “I just can’t take it any more. I need a nap!” If only our kids were so articulate – but you know this is how they’d put it if we lived in a world where everyone expressed their emotions in song.)

These books make me wish I still had young kids and an excuse to play these songs over and over. As it is, they brightened up a few commutes! They simply make me laugh.

My favorites of the 16 songs: “Sneakers,” “Boring Song,” “Penguin Lament,” “Pots and Pans,” and “I Need a Nap.” I also love that she always includes a love song, perfect for singing to your child, in this case, “Evermore.”

The songs on this album are rock and roll, but include a wide variety. One of my favorites, “Boring Song,” is an old-fashioned schmaltzy song with backup singers, and a man with a wonderful velvet sound singing, “And though you find me boring, I’m still adoring my voice.” So funny, but played completely straight.

I so relate to the Penguin’s Lament! “I’m a little too cute. Oh yes, I know. I’m all dressed up, but I’ve got no place to go. I want to be cool, like the polar bear guys. I want to be tall and somewhat mysterious. But nothing profound comes in penguin size. Can anyone small be anyone serious? I’m serious!”

The song “Sneakers” is about a bear’s favorite shoes. “When you’re unaware that a bear is there, well, here’s the reason why: it’s the SNEAKERS. Now you know.”

And they’ve gotten a great line up of talent to sing the songs. People like Weird Al Yankovic, the Bacon Brothers, and Hootie and the Blowfish.

But I can talk on and on about it and you won’t get the idea nearly as effectively as from five minutes of listening. Check this out from the library, and if you have kids, I predict you’re going to want your own copy. Too much fun.

sandraboynton.com
workman.com

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/dog_train.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of The Whispering Skull audiobook, by Jonathan Stroud

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015

whispering_skull_audio_largeThe Whispering Skull

by Jonathan Stroud
read by Katie Lyons

Listening Library, 2014. 11 ½ hours on 9 compact discs.
Starred Review

I’m thoroughly enjoying rereading the Lockwood & Co. series by listening before the third book in the series comes out this month. I was disappointed that a different narrator was used for the second book, but she’s still got a British accent, and it’s still an enthralling and absorbing story that makes the commuting miles fly by.

In the second book, there’s more tension between the members of the agency Lockwood & Co. The skull in the title is our friend in the jar – and it starts talking to Lucy, but continues to say things that build mistrust and get the agency into trouble.

There’s more horror in this book – this time the ghost of a man eaten by rats, as well as people who die by looking into a cursed mirror. Lockwood & Co. are looking for this mirror, which was stolen from a coffin that was dug up in their presence and also contained the bones of a particularly threatening Visitor.

Again, this would make great family listening – but only if the kids are old enough for a very scary story. If they’ll be badly freaked out by the thought of rats eating a human body – this audiobook is not for them.

However, for older kids and adults, this is more brilliant excitement from Jonathan Stroud. We’ve got a mystery again – what happened to the mirror? But there’s also competition with another agency, secrets between Lucy and Lockwood and George, and more interesting tidbits about this world where dangerous Visitors walk among us, but only kids can see them.

I had so much fun reviewing this series in preparation for Book Three, I have a feeling it’s going to become a yearly tradition. (This is a case where I am definitely hoping we’re not talking about a trilogy.) I’m just not getting tired of these brilliant books.

jonathanstroud.com
lockwoodandco.com
listeninglibrary.com

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/whispering_skull_audio.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library audiobook from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of The Screaming Staircase, by Jonathan Stroud, read by Miranda Raison

Friday, September 4th, 2015

screaming_staircase_audio_largeLockwood & Co.

The Screaming Staircase

by Jonathan Stroud

read by Miranda Raison

Listening Library, 2013. 10 hours on 8 compact discs.
2013 Cybils Winner: Speculative Fiction, Elementary and Middle Grades
2013 Sonderbooks Stand-out: #1 Children’s Fiction
Starred Review

Normally, I won’t listen to a book I’ve already read. In the case of The Screaming Staircase, I’d already read it twice: Once when it came out, and once for the Cybils Award. (It won.) I also named it my favorite children’s book read in 2013. (I don’t allow rereads to count as Sonderbooks Stand-outs any more, so that way I won’t be tempted to give it to this book again in 2015.) So you won’t be surprised that I loved this audiobook (which our library finally purchased). Apparently, I don’t get tired of this story at all!

I’ll refer you to my original review, but point out a few things I noticed.

As a straight mystery (Who killed Annabelle Ward?), this book is wonderfully well-crafted. There are clues and red herrings as well as a life-endangering denouement accompanying some clever deductions from our heroes.

This book is scarier than I remembered it. The Red Room – with blood dripping down from the ceiling threatening to flood them (and they’ll die if it touches them) is incredibly sinister, not to mention the Screaming Staircase, where long-ago monks were led to their deaths and today you can hear their screams in your head. So that’s the only caveat when giving this book to children or suggesting it for family listening (It would be great!) – they have to be able to handle Scary.

As I suspected, though, the only thing better than reading this book is having it read to you with a British accent. The narrator is utterly wonderful! When I got to the part I used to read aloud at schools when booktalking last summer – I could recite the words along with the narrator, but they sounded so much better with a British accent! This narrator also captured the different voices with excellence.

As I mentioned in my first review, there’s so much going on with this book. We’ve got ghosts, swordplay, a deadline which must be met to keep their business, banter between colleagues, an interesting alternate world with great detail as to the different types of ghosts, kids in charge (because only they can see ghosts), and our heroes setting out to show the world that they are excellent at what they do – without the supervision of adults.

If your kids are old enough to handle Scary, this would make phenomenal family listening, because I guarantee the adults will be as mesmerized as the kids. I certainly was. And this was a book I successfully recommended to several adult coworkers. I am having fun listening to the audio version of the first two books in the series in preparation for Book Three coming out soon. I can hardly wait!

jonathanstroud.com
lockwoodandco.com
Listeninglibrary.com

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/screaming_staircase_audio.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust, by Alan Bradley

Saturday, August 29th, 2015

as_chimney_sweepers_come_to_dust_largeAs Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust

by Alan Bradley
read by Jayne Entwistle

Random House Audio, 2015. 11 hours on 9 compact discs.
Starred Review

I decided to listen to the next installment of the Flavia de Luce books, after learning it’s read by Jayne Entwistle, whom I heard read The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place and heard in person at the 2015 Odyssey Award reception. This added to the fun, though I think I would have enjoyed this book anyway. I was afraid it would degenerate into a standard school story — but Flavia is anything but standard.

Flavia has, however, been sent off to school in Canada. But the very night she arrives, a body falls out of the chimney in her room. The body is wrapped in a Union Jack and has been there awhile. It is clearly a murder, since the head is not attached.

Flavia has no relationship with the police in Canada, so she has little access to clues, beyond what she saw that first night. But she does have access to the school’s chemistry lab, and I was happy when her knowledge of poisons did come into play.

I wasn’t thrilled with the hints that the school was training ground for a league of espionage. That seemed a little far-fetched. However, it did make for some nice red herrings along the way. Because there are secrets everywhere at Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy.

Basically, Flavia has a nice classic murder to solve. Who was killed, and how? And she’s not in her native element. Can she pull it off? Flavia is still her unique manipulative self, with a knack for uncovering secrets and an uncanny knowledge of poisons.

alanbradleyauthor.com
randomhouseaudio.com

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Fiction/as_chimney_sweepers_come_to_dust.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library audiobook from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place, by Julie Berry

Sunday, July 19th, 2015

scandalous_sisterhood_largeThe Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place

by Julie Berry
read by Jayne Entwistle

Listening Library, 2014. 9.5 hours on 8 CDs.
Starred Review
2015 Odyssey Honor Audiobook

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place are the students at a girls’ Victorian boarding school in Ely, England, St. Etheldreda’s School for Young Ladies.

Right at the start of the book, the girls’ awful headmistress suddenly dies, as does her odious brother. The girls don’t want to be sent home! Smooth Kitty forms a plan. They will carry on as if nothing has happened. Stout Alice is an aspiring actress, so she can impersonate Mrs. Plackett when visitors come to the door. Pocked Louise is a budding scientist, so she can determine if poison was used. Dour Eleanor can be in charge of burying the bodies in the vegetable garden, and Disgraceful Mary Jane can distract any men who come around. Dear Roberta and Dull Martha have parts to play as well.

There’s one problem: What will the murderer do if their plan didn’t work the first time? Will they be convinced Stout Alice is in fact Mrs. Plackett and try again to kill her?

This is a delightful book about girls caught in a difficult situation who come up with questionable ideas for dealing with it.

I enjoyed the atmosphere of Ely with the cathedral looming, as I have been there and that’s what I remember.

Naturally enough, it reminded me of Summer of the Gypsy Moths in that both books begin with girls burying a body and trying to convince others that nothing has happened. The Sisters of Prickwillow Place have the advantage of there being seven of them. Can they work together to be able to stay together?

This is a murder mystery with a Victorian atmosphere. I listened to the book, and the narrator is wonderful, using a distinct voice for each character, and all with an English accent which of course makes for delightful listening.

The trailer is wonderful and gives you the flavor of the book.

julieberrybooks.com
listeninglibrary.com

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/scandalous_sisterhood.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library audiobook from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins

Friday, May 15th, 2015

girl_on_the_train_largeThe Girl on the Train

by Paula Hawkins
read by Claire Corbett, Louise Brealey, and India Fisher

Penguin Audio, 2015. 11 hours on 9 compact discs.
Starred Review

Warning to potential listeners: If you have ever been cheated on, this book contains some triggers which will remind you of that time. However, it’s also somewhat therapeutic. It will make you feel that your own reactions were incredibly calm. You were not a crazy woman! (Who knew?)

Rachel Watson rides the train into London every morning and goes home every evening – so her flatmate won’t know that she lost her job months ago for turning up drunk. Every day, the train stops as it passes the house where Rachel used to live – and where her ex-husband Tom lives with his new wife and child – the woman who replaced Rachel and the child she longed to have.

To avoid looking at her home, right next to the tracks, naturally enough Rachel watches the people a few houses down. They are the perfect couple. As in love as Rachel used to be. Rachel gives them names, Jess and Jason, and she imagines their perfect lives.

Then, one day, Rachel sees Jess kissing a man who is not Jason. Jess is ruining Jason’s life, just as Tom ruined hers! That evening, having thought about it all day, in her drunken agitation, she gets off the train at her old stop. She knows something bad happened when she wakes up at home the next morning with a cut on her forehead, but she doesn’t remember at all what it was. And the newspapers say that Jess – actually named Megan – has gone missing.

Gradually, we learn about Rachel’s past, about Megan’s history, and about Anna, the woman who replaced Rachel with Tom. Rachel has not been doing well since Tom left her. And she doesn’t blame Tom – she was already a drunk before he left, depressed because she wasn’t having a baby. Now she calls him at odd hours, even turns up at the house.

But after Megan’s disappearance, Rachel is sure Megan’s husband will be suspected. The police need to know about the man Megan kissed. The husband needs to know. Maybe Rachel has to lie a little bit to get them to listen to her, but it’s all trying to help….

I have to admit, the people in this book are not very nice. The situations are sordid. There’s a whole lot of cheating going on. But ultimately, I found I couldn’t stop listening (and this was another audiobook which had me bringing the final CD into the house to finish listening). The audio production is very well done. The three different narrators for the three women – Rachel, Anna, and Megan – make it clear who is speaking at any given time.

I think the character of Rachel is what had me hooked. I remembered the world-shattering pain of learning my husband was cheating. It would have been so very easy to turn to alcohol. To call him and beg him to take me back. If he had married the mistress and moved into our home with his new wife and baby? Well, her pain was all too easy to imagine.

And the mystery is a tangled and interesting one. There are compelling twists along the way. Let me just say that some of the cheaters get a satisfying comeuppance. But best of all is that by the end of the book we feel that Rachel, who has believed many lies about herself, is on her way to healing.

And that’s a beautiful thing.

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Source: This review is based on a library audiobook from Fairfax County Public Library.

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