Archive for the ‘Audiobooks’ Category

Review of Norse Mythology, by Neil Gaiman

Friday, July 7th, 2017

Norse Mythology

by Neil Gaiman
performed by the author

HarperAudio, 2017. 6.5 hours on 6 compact discs. Unabridged.

I could listen to Neil Gaiman read the phone book! Although I ended up finding Norse mythology quite strange and wild – I can’t imagine a better way to hear these stories than read by Neil Gaiman. And written by Neil Gaiman doesn’t hurt, either. He captures the magical and mystical feel of the tales.

There’s an explanation at the beginning about Asgard and Midgard and the Land of the Giants and all the rest – It might have been simpler if I’d had that explanation in print to refer back to. Anyway, this way I was caught up in the stories. Most of them had Loki being a trickster and Thor throwing his hammer around to get his way.

There are many stories in this collection, and many of them have more than one chapter. There’s a dizzying array of characters, though usually Neil Gaiman refers back to where we have seen an obscure character before, so it seems quite coherent.

We do learn how Thor gets his hammer and what powers it has. And we find out about many adventures of the gods and goddesses, which so often start by an action that wasn’t terribly wise. And then there are consequences. And gods and giants try to trick others and are tricked themselves. And most of the stories were not familiar to me like Greek myths, so they were all new adventures.

That review seems a little coherent, but here’s the bottom line: Norse mythology explained and retold by Neil Gaiman, and even read by Neil Gaiman. Now that’s worth listening to!

neilgaiman.com
harperaudio.com

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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 Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah

Friday, June 30th, 2017

Born a Crime

Stories from a South African Childhood

by Trevor Noah
performed by the author

Brilliance Audio, 2016. 7 discs, 8 hours, 48 minutes.
Starred Review

Trevor Noah, current host of The Daily Show was born in South Africa during apartheid. Since it was illegal for people of different races (as defined by the authorities) to have sexual relations, his birth to a black mother and white (Swiss) father was proof that a crime had been committed.

He couldn’t be seen in public with either of his parents. To walk in the park, they’d get a colored woman to walk with him, and his mother would pose as the nanny. At his grandmother’s house in Soweto, Trevor wasn’t allowed to go outside, because if police saw him, there could be serious trouble.

This book was especially good to listen to, since Trevor can speak the various African words correctly. His mother made sure he learned English first, but he learned many other African languages as well. He has some interesting observations about how you can be part of any group if you speak like they do.

Though he did have trouble fitting in. There are interesting observations on that, too. This book helped me understand how to this day, Trevor Noah’s outsider perspective helps him get to the heart of things.

This book is abundantly entertaining. The author is a comedian and shows us the funny side of so many things, while at the same time giving us perspective on things as wide-ranging as racism, poverty, going to church, and domestic violence.

This is an eye-opening and amazing story. And it’s all true. Mostly, it’s about Trevor’s life growing up in South Africa as apartheid fell. There are lots of laughs mixed in with more sobering truths. I highly recommend this audiobook.

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Nonfiction/born_a_crime.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 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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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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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.

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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.

What did you think of this book?

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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