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Fiction & Literature

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FanB14 Rockville, VA, United States Member Since 2011

Short, Simple, No Spoilers


A Peek at The Reading Date's Bookshelf

CA, United States 53 REVIEWS / 70 ratings Member Since 2011 7 Followers / Following 13
The Reading Date's greatest hits:
  • Faking Normal

    "Powerful story and performance"


    Faking Normal is Courtney C. Stevens’ debut novel, and it’s one I’ve had on my radar for a few months since I’m a realistic fiction fan. It’s about a girl dealing with the aftermath of a traumatic event, and how she copes, and who she can turn to in her darkest hours.

    We piece together a mystery in Faking Normal. We know that Alexi is hurting from an event that happened over the summer. We can see her hurt herself, and avoiding social events, but we don’t know why. Alexi keeps it all inside, like the title says, and can’t confide in her friends or family. Help comes from an unlikely source in the form of Bodee, a boy who is also suffering a great deal. Even though his pain is also so raw, or maybe because of that, he sees through Alexi’s façade and is able to get through to her the way that no one else can.

    Though I haven’t been in Alexi’s specific situation, it felt to me that her behavior was realistic given the circumstances. We all have things we keep to ourselves, and the pain of Alexi’s secret felt very real. My heart went out to her, wanting her to reach out to someone for help, but understanding she was not physically or mentally ready to do so. She cuts as a coping mechanism, and another source of comfort are the lyrics the mysterious “Captain Lyric” leaves for Alexi on her desk at school.

    Alexi’s friendship with Bodee is one of my favorite parts of the book. Sometimes people are there for you right when you need him, and Bodee is so sweet and careful with Alexi that he makes her feel truly safe.

    I picked up the audiobook of Faking Normal, because I saw that one of my favorite narrators Emma Galvin performs it. Galvin does well with a variety of genres, but I think she’s particularly successful with action packed reads like Divergent. That said, Galvin connects with the characters and makes Alexi’s pain feel real. Galvin uses a Southern accent to go with the book’s setting, and makes both the male and female voices sound distinct. Lyrics play an important part in the narrative, so this book is probably just as powerful in print, though I didn't feel like I was missing out with the audio.

    Faking Normal is a powerful, emotional read along the same vein as Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Alexi’s story arc is satisfying even though everything is not completely tied up at the end. Looking forward to reading more by this author.

  • Lola and the Boy Next Door

    "Fun and Quirky"


    In Lola and the Boy Next Door, Lola “Life’s a costume party” Nolan, is in a relationship with an older musician when her old crush Cricket moves back next door after a few years absence. They departed on awkward terms, and his return brings back some old feelings. Cricket is sweet and nerdy, and with his own quirky sense of style and now that he’s back things are about to get complicated.

    This book is fun to revisit in audio format and fall in love with the characters again. The tricky thing with reading the book first, though, is that I already had an idea of what I thought Lola should sound like. My impression of book-Lola is that she’s adventurous, dramatic, and a little kooky. And audio-Lola didn’t quite line up with what I had in mind. McManus’ delivery is more subdued and mature than I expected I guess. It’s almost like the narrator’s for Anna and Lola should switch places, because the Anna narrator was quite bubbly. But overall McManus does a nice job with the different characters and their personalities. Her character differentiation is subtle and not over the top, yet it is easy to tell the characters apart. She handles the voices of different genders and accents pretty well, and I thought she did a great job with Cricket, Max, and the two dads in particular.

    In terms of the story itself, I think it holds up pretty well. I liked all the quirky character traits and the fun Perkins has with setting. There is a good balance of serious family stuff, romance, and friendship. And I liked that Lola has a job and we see her working at the movie theatre. As a fan of Anna it’s great to see Anna and St. Clair appear in this book so we can check in with them. But on the other hand it’s a testament to Perkins that I wished they were in the book a little less so that the focus is more on Lola, a character that holds her own. I liked all the details that make this book fun like costume design, figure skating, live bands, pie making, cute dogs, inventing, and boys next door of course. And Lola’s family is pretty awesome too.

    I liked both the book and the audio versions of the book, but if I hadn’t read the book first I might have liked the audio a little more.

  • Blood Red Road

    "Improves on the book"


    I read the book Blood Red Road upon its release last year and liked it a lot. It has a different vibe than the other YA dystopians on the shelf and it’s one I recommend frequently. The author’s distinctive writing style translates well to audio, and I think I enjoyed listening to the book even more than reading it. The story holds up well and is as action packed and intense as ever.

    Blood Red Road is the story of a girl named Saba whose life falls apart when four cloaked horsemen kidnap her twin brother Lugh. She sets out to rescue him, and much to her dismay her little sister is along for the ride. Saba and her family have lived in isolation in the sandstorm-stricken Silverlake, and now she has to venture into the scary unknown to try to keep her promise to her brother. On her journey she finds out what she’s really made of as her character faces several dangerous challenges.

    Saba ‘s strength and determination made me root for her. She rises to every challenge and doesn’t back down from her chosen path – a true survivor. She’s not perfect, and she still has a lot to learn, but I liked seeing her come into her own and grow throughout the book.

    Along the way Saba meets several characters on her journey, some more helpful than others. The secondary characters fill in some of the missing details in Saba’s knowledge about the politics of their world. Some of the characters are fairly mysterious and I hope to find out more about them in the sequel. I also liked the dynamic between Saba and her love interest Jack and am curious to see how that progresses.

    One thing that tripped me up a little when I read it the first time is the writing style. Saba’s character can’t read or write and her character’s dialogue is written phonetically. I found it a bit of a challenge to get through initially, but eventually I was caught up in the story and appreciated the style choice. With the audiobook, Heather Lind narrates with an accent and makes it easier to get immersed in the story. She gives a distinct voice to all the characters and brings them to life. Lind does a nice job portraying Saba in her different emotional states, and also Jack sounds just about how I’d imagine he’d sound. In this case, I think the audiobook experience improves upon the book and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

    Though I like all the action and adventure of the entire book, the first half sticks with me more. Listening to it again helped me to fill in some of the holes in my memory from the second half, getting me up to speed for the sequel. Being the first book of a trilogy, there are a lot of mysteries left unsolved, though the book is still pretty satisfying on it’s own. I’m looking forward to the rest of this series, and think Blood Red Road has the potential to be a very cool movie.

  • The Fault in Our Stars

    "So many feels"


    The Fault in Our Stars is a story about Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters who meet at a Cancer support group. It’s a book with cancer at the center but it’s also about love and life in general. The characters are wonderful, and so smart and funny. John Green gives his readers a lot of credit and doesn’t talk down to them, and I think that’s part of why this book appeals to such a wide audience. I would love to be friends with Augustus, Hazel and Isaac, but at the same time I could absolutely relate to their parents and their struggles.

    I’ve noticed that some people who have been affected by cancer, or the death of a loved one avoid reading this book, fearing it will be a grief trigger or just too sad a read. In my own experience, I read the book first early last year and overall found it funny, touching, witty and yes sad at times. This time around I’m experiencing it through the eyes of someone who has experienced a big loss, so I had those same uneasy feelings about picking this book up again. But, I do think a lot of the book is hopeful, romantic and even funny. So to those of you on the fence about reading it, I say give it a shot.

    I listened to the official audiobook version read by Kate Rudd. This audiobook is a quick listen at just over 7 hours long. Kate Rudd sounds the way I imagined the characters to sound, and expertly handles different ages, genders and accents. Though her interpretation of Hazel and Augustus was spot on, it was also a treat to hear her rendition of Peter Van Houten, and the Dutch accent of his assistant. Rudd puts a lot of emotion and heart into her narration, and the joys as well as the pain were felt even more than in the print edition. The sad parts of the book felt sadder listening to the audiobook, perhaps because I knew what to expect. At the end of the audiobook John Green talks about the book, so that was a nice surprise. I think this is a great starter audiobook for readers that want to try out the audiobook experience, even/especially if you’ve already read the book. I really enjoyed revisiting this book and appreciate it even more.


Ella toronto,, Ontario, Canada 10-09-10 Member Since 2005

Knowledge is knowing the way. Wisdom is looking for an alternative, more interesting road to get there. Audiobooks are that road.

  • "A True Classic"

    9 of 9 helpful votes

    Centered around the protagonist Mary Frances Nolan who is 11 years old at the onset of the novel, ATGIB tell the story of a poor family, struggling in Brooklyn in the early 1900s. Mother Katie is a proud, hard-working, practical, woman who tries to make ends meet by working as a cleaning woman, while her husband Johnny escapes reality through alcohol. It depicts the hard road traveled by their two children Francie and Neeley, her younger brother, as they go to school and work while learning about life and how to survive its cruelty. It also depicts the strong love of family. How in difficult circumstances they stick together and even though their situation whittles away at their endurance, they still manage to stick together as their love, devotion and loyalty to one another triumph. Katie’s sisters Evy and Sissy are strong women who also struggle through life’s challenges, but never back away as they persevere and face adversity head on. ATGIB is story telling on a whole new level. Moving and inspirational, it reaches in to your heart and pulls you into its time, place and circumstance. A true classic.
    Kate Burton did a fine job with the narration.


    A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Betty Smith
    • Narrated By Kate Burton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    A moving coming-of-age story set in the 1900s, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn follows the lives of 11-year-old Francie Nolan, her younger brother Neely, and their parents, Irish immigrants who have settled in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. Johnny Nolan is as loving and fanciful as they come, but he is also often drunk and out of work, unable to find his place in the land of opportunity.

    Nancy says: "Leaves you wondering what happened next -"

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