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 - As a rule I don't like sad books or movies, but I decided to take a chance on this one for the sake of variety and also the very high ratings. I was not disappointed. The only reason I didn't rate this book a 5 is because it was -- well, predictably sad. The story is about two teenagers, Hazel and Augustus, who both have cancer and fall in love. They are both very smart, mature for their years and have healthy attitudes about their illness. The story doesn't dwell on tear-jerking descriptions of their symptoms and suffering. It is more about how they struggle to just be normal teenagers and try to do what other kids their age do. That is what's so sad, the fact that they just accept amputations, tubes and treatments as normal, often joking about their own shortcomings.
Despite the sadness, it is a beautifully written story and I couldn't stop listening. Hazel and Gus are loveable teenaged characters and their story seems very real. The truth that serious illnesses affect children is something we don't like to think about, but sometimes we need to be reminded.
NARRATION - The reading of this story is good, but there is nothing special about the performance.
OVERALL - If you don't mind a good cry, I would definitely recommend this book.