I can find a book to love in any genre -- a beautifully written classic, an interesting mystery or sci-fi, a trashy romance. Bring it!
STORY (fiction) - This is a chilling story of human trafficking which needs to be heard. It is sad, but it's beautifully written and performed. As the summary suggests, Lakshmi's parents are tricked and she is sold into prostitution at the age of 13. The book is short (3:44). It begins with perhaps an hour of her poor-but-happy life in Nepal before she is sold, then there's a trip to India where she is passed around to different bidders. The largest part of the book is her life in the brothel. It is a poignant story of how she is able to survive a life of unspeakable evil.
The story is sad but absolutely stunning. At the conclusion, the narrator spends about a minute talking about the staggering number of young girls sold into prostitution every day all over the world and what is being done to help them. I'm very glad I listened to this book.
PERFORMANCE - Beautiful. She has the perfect voice for an innocent young woman who is trying to be brave and strong. Her accent is refreshingly different, whether it's authentic Nepalese or not.
OVERALL - Mature audiences only, and I'd think this story would appeal more to women than men. There is no cursing, but there is a lot of cruel treatment. The sexual scenes are not at all graphic -- just references to things like unzipping pants, grunting, etc. I thank the author for being tastefully vague!
STORY (historical) - First of all, I totally disagree with the categorization of this book as "Teens Ages 11-13" The main characters in the story are teens, but there are mature themes which make it more appropriate for adults. The main character, "Jacky," is a young orphan girl who must survive on the streets of London until a dear friend is killed, she takes his clothing and sets off in search of a better life disguised as a boy. Her life as a street urchin is pretty dark and depressing. Jacky gets a job as a ship's mate aboard a seagoing vessel, which is where the adventures begin, but there are still some scenes with sexual undertones which I wouldn't consider appropriate for 11-year-olds.
I also think the title is a bit misleading. Jacky gets the nickname "Bloody Jack" because she happens to kill an unworthy individual in self-defense and another in a battle with pirates, but the story is actually a touching coming-of-age story that is mixed with lots of fun and adventure. It's a light, easy listen once Jacky becomes a ship's "boy." The ending is good, but definitely leaves the door open for the rest of the series.
PERFORMANCE - Amazing! Katherine Kellgren is one of my favorite narrators. I was undecided about this series until I noticed she was the narrator. She gives every character a different voice and accent and they're all wonderful. There's even a toothless pirate, and you can literally "see" him when you hear her portrayal. (She also reads the Her Royal Spyness series.) You must hear her to believe how good she is.
OVERALL - (Actual rating 4.5 stars) This is Book 1 of the series, and you should listen to them in order. As I mentioned above, I would recommend this for high school age and above. Guys and gals would probably both enjoy the adventures of Jacky and her crew.
STORY (YA romance) - I have been anxiously awaiting the release of The One and was pleased to find that Kiera Cass decided to give us something to placate us in the meantime. This book is two separate novellas that give the viewpoints of Maxon and Aspen. If you've been following The Selection series, you will know it's about a competition between 35 young girls wishing to become the wife of Prince Maxon. The main character, America, is in the competition but still has feelings for her old BF Aspen, who is a guard at the palace and watching the competition unfold. It's the ultimate love triangle, not to mention all the tension between the competitors. (Do you watch The Bachelor on TV?)
This book is enjoyable, but there's really nothing new that happens. It's basically the same story as The Selection and The Elite, but it tells where the guys were and what they were doing/thinking when events occurred. You will hear how nervous Maxon was about the competition and how he accidentally met America before it started and liked her immediately. Aspen's perspective is basically about his devotion to "Mare" (nickname for America) and his dislike for Prince Maxon.
If you love this series as I do, you might want to hear these short novellas but, as I said, the story doesn't really progress from the ending of the last book. There's a preview of The One at the end but, again, nothing really new happens.
PERFORMANCE - The stories of Maxon and Aspen each have a different narrator. They both do good jobs, though I think they pronounce the name of the country differently than Amy Rubinate. Amy is back to narrate the preview at the end.
OVERALL - If you are thinking about listening to this series, don't start here. Start with The Selection and then hear The Elite. The series is easy listening, romantic and thoroughly enjoyable. There is no sex and only a little mild violence, so it's recommended for all ages. Not a book for guys.