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Sarah

GRAND BLANC, MI, United States | Member Since 2012

9
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 8 reviews
  • 32 ratings
  • 96 titles in library
  • 18 purchased in 2014
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  • My Most Excellent Year: A Novel of Love, Mary Poppins, and Fenway Park

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Steve Kluger
    • Narrated By Eileen Stevens, Ben Rameaka, Jeremy Beck
    Overall
    (24)
    Performance
    (18)
    Story
    (19)

    Classmates T.C., Augie, and Alejandra each have different passions: the Red Sox, musical theater, and acting. They uproariously combine in friendship, love, and a quest to make a special addition to Manzanar, the famed Japanese internment site. Throw in a little Mary Poppins, and things really turn upside-down!

    Julie says: "Encore! Encore!"
    "Bummed"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What would have made My Most Excellent Year better?

    If there weren't so many different formats such as emails, phone messages, and online messaging.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    I think the story simple wasn't meant to be an audiobook. The story itself is good but it became muddled and confusing with so many types of communication. If it had just been the three different characters narrating the story and communicating with one another it would have been MUCH better.


    What character would you cut from My Most Excellent Year?

    I wouldn't cut any of the characters. I didn't, however, like T.C.'s narrator. His voice/accent was grinding.


    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Every Day

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By David Levithan
    • Narrated By Alex McKenna
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (238)
    Performance
    (214)
    Story
    (214)

    Every morning, A wakes in a different person’s body, a different person’s life. There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere. It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply....

    Laura says: "Original & Moving"
    "Conflicted after the ending"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Review originally posted at YA Love

    Audiobook Review:

    The audio itself is enjoyable and easy to listen to. Alex McKenna’s voice works as the narrator because her voice can sound both male and female which suits A’s character. There were times when she had to use a female voice to portray a character other than Rhiannon, but it still sounded like Rhiannon’s voice. Overall, however, her voices for A and Rhiannon worked well for the story; every time I heard Rhiannon or A’s voice I could picture them and their interactions very well.

    Book Review:

    I’m really not sure how I feel about Every Day. I’m a big David Levithan fan, so I was really excited to read this, but I have a few big issues with it.

    **The insta-love. A starts off the book in Justin’s body who happens to be dating Rhiannon. A has never met Rhiannon before being in Justin’s body, but he (is it okay to refer to A as a male?) is instantly attracted to Rhiannon. He notices things about Rhiannon that Justin apparently never notices or cares about. From this day forward he’s head-over-heels in love with her. Sometimes I’m okay with insta-love, but most times I’m not, and this is another example of when it didn’t work for me. I understand crushes and lust, but his obsession with her bothered me.
    **Where did A come from? He talks about being this way forever, but at one point in the novel he worries about someone finding out about him. Why? Does it really matter? What will possibly happen to him? How will someone know where to find him? This whole sub-plot of the story, which includes another character who adds more conflict, really threw off the story. It felt like adding conflict for the sake of adding conflict. But maybe the story needed more conflict since the main conflict with Rhiannon is introduced at the very beginning of the book. It simply didn’t make sense.
    **Why the twist at the end? I’m not going to ruin the ending for anyone, but the twist at the end made me angry. Really, it ruined the book for me. I have a feeling that David Levithan is planning a sequel which would be good for the story, but upsets me at the same time. The ending feels like a cheap way get me to read another book. If there’s going to be a sequel then all of Every Day is like a prologue. I was almost able to suspend my disbelief and ignore some of the points that bothered me until that ending.
    **I feel like the only person who doesn’t LOVE Every Day. I’m not sure if that’s because I’m the only person who doesn’t “get” the story or appreciate it, or if maybe some readers love this book mostly because it’s written by David Levithan. Sometimes I think the author’s name on the book impacts what people think of the book. Or maybe I’m just not being fair right now.
    **I do like the focus on person over gender and appearance. It adds a unique way of thinking about why we like/dislike people and how attraction plays a role in relationships. I wasn’t thrilled with some of the stereotypes Levithan wrote for A to take over (a drug addict, an obese guy, a “mean girl,” and so on). These scenes often felt preachy.

    Like I said, I’m having a hard time deciding how I feel about Every Day. I’ve listed more negatives than positives, but I still enjoyed listening to the book and wanted to finish it. I was holding out hope that some big revelation was going to take place and when I realized I had only 20 minutes left of the audio I started to get mad. I felt let down and sort of cheated.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Crash: Visions, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Lisa McMann
    • Narrated By Allyson Ryan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (20)
    Performance
    (19)
    Story
    (20)

    Jules lives with her family above their restaurant, which means she smells like pizza most of the time and drives their double-meatball-shaped food truck to school. It’s not a recipe for popularity, but she can handle that. What she can’t handle is the recurring vision that haunts her. Over and over, Jules sees a careening truck hit a building and explode...and nine body bags in the snow. The vision is everywhere - on billboards, television screens, windows - and she’s the only one who sees it. And the more she sees it, the more she sees.

    Sarah says: "Not my favorite McMann book"
    "Not my favorite McMann book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Review originally posted at YA Love

    Audio Review:

    I chose to read Crash with my ears because reading it traditionally wasn’t holding my attention. I write this first because the audio swayed parts of my enjoyment of this book, but not all of it. Overall Allyson Ryan did a good job narrating the story. Her voice is believable as a teen girl, and I was able to discern most of the other character’s voices. Ryan did a great job expressing the emotions of the characters which really brought the story to life. This is weird, but something I noticed about Allyson Ryan’s narration that bothered me. Every now and then she awkwardly pause while speaking and it reminded me of William Shatner’s quirky speaking. Do you know what I’m referring to when I mention his speaking? That. Awkward. Pausing. It didn’t happen often, and usually I’d giggle when it did, but it was slightly distracting.

    Book Review:

    Lisa McMann is one of my favorite authors. She writes engaging stories that hook my students and leave them wanting more. So when I found out about Crash and its premise I was really excited. I loved the idea of the visions because I knew it would make the story exciting with that added supernatural twist while still feeling realistic. When I started reading it traditionally, I couldn’t stay with the story. I wasn’t engaged. Thankfully the audio kept me engaged, but I still found some key faults with the story.

    First, I have to say that my absolute favorite part of Crash is Jules’s relationship with her siblings. Trey and Rowan are wonderful supporting characters; they’re full of life and really add something extra to the scenes. I think I even liked them more than Jules!

    The problem I have with the story is that it’s more of a spin on Romeo & Juliet than a story about visions of a crash. I like that Jules has a love interest and the reasons why she can’t be with him. I simply wish for more balance in the story. Jules starts seeing the crash visions at the very beginning of the story, and they’re dragged out until almost the very end. That’s not completely unexpected, especially since Crash is a short book, but most of the focus is on Jules worrying about and pining over Sawyer. When I was hoping for an exciting story about visions, that left me disappointed.

    The sequel to Crash, Bang, releases this October, and I’m sure I’ll read it. Crash ended with a twist, so I’m curious to know how that will play out. I’d also like to read Bang because so much wasn’t explained in Crash. I have mixed feelings about the unexplained elements because if less time was spent on the Jules/ Sawyer love aspect, we could have learned more about the visions themselves.

    Most of my friends really enjoyed Lisa McMann’s newest YA novel, and I’m positive many of my students will love it as well.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Daughter of Smoke and Bone

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Laini Taylor
    • Narrated By Khristine Hvam
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2079)
    Performance
    (1866)
    Story
    (1881)

    Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky. In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low. And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war. Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages - not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color.

    FanB14 says: "Beautiful Writing, Mediocre Romance"
    "Lush writing & fabulous narration"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Review originally posted at YA Love

    Audiobook Review:

    It took me some time to get into this book both physically (my first attempt at reading it) and aurally. I’m so thankful I kept with the audio because it is one of my favorite audiobooks. To put it simply, the narration is wonderful. Khristine Hvam used a believable accent and differentiated between each character so well that I was never questioning which character was speaking. I love listening to audiobooks when I’m getting ready for work, driving to and from work, and getting chores/cooking done. I know I really love an audiobook when I find myself making excuses to drive somewhere or to get more cleaning done, which is what I did while listening to Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

    Book Review:

    The first thing I want to say about Daughter of Smoke and Bone is that I love Laini Taylor’s beautiful use of vocabulary. Her writing is lush and vibrant. I don’t know if I would have appreciated it as much if I wasn’t listening to the audio, but it’s seriously wonderful. I’ve never read a book that uses vocabulary and description to the degree that Taylor does, at least not recently.

    The story itself is layered and engrossing. I love Karou and the incredible life she leads. She’s feisty, which I thoroughly enjoyed, but she’s vulnerable as well. I was a little lost during the Akiva back story, but when everything came together I was so impressed and excited. I’ll admit that the back story was beginning to bother me since I didn’t know where it was going, but it did make me love Akiva that much more.

    I’m not sure if any movie rights for Daughter of Smoke and Bone have been purchased, but I would love to see this story come to life on the big screen. I know a movie wouldn’t do it justice (they rarely do), but I think I’d still enjoy it just the same.

    If you decide to read Daughter of Smoke and Bone, which I hope you, make sure you have a copy of Days of Blood & Starlight handy because you’ll want to start reading it as soon as you can!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Some Girls Are

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Courtney Summers
    • Narrated By Katie Schorr
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (40)
    Performance
    (29)
    Story
    (29)

    Climbing to the top of the social ladder is hard - falling from it is even harder. Regina Afton used to be a member of the Fearsome Fivesome, an all-girl clique both feared and revered by the students at Hallowell High... until vicious rumors about her and her best friend's boyfriend start going around. Now Regina's been "frozen out" and her ex-best friends are out for revenge.

    Jennifer says: "Non-funny Mean Girls in a book."
    "Courtney Summers is excellent"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Review originally posted at YA Love

    Audio Review:

    I have more to say about the actual book than the audio, so this portion of the review will be short. Overall, I liked it. It’s not the best audio performance I’ve listened to, but it’s still good. I don’t want that part of the review, however, to keep anyone from reading the book. Katie Schorr is a good choice for Regina, but she isn’t as talented at changing her voice for different characters. Considering the amount of character interaction in Some Girls Are, this became an issue for me because I had a hard time distinguishing when Regina was talking and when, say, Michael or Kara were speaking. I also don’t know if this is the best choice for audio because of how clipped some of the narration and dialogue are. I think hearing it, as opposed to seeing it, took away from the effect the clipped, sparse lines were supposed to have. I recommend reading Some Girls Are traditionally over listening to it.

    Book Review:

    Courtney Summers is an author who deserves more attention and more of a fan base because she is seriously talented. I still have to read This is Not a Drill, but I’ve read all three of her other books and in each one she develops characters who are both hard and easy to like. Regina is the epitome of this. I did not want to like Regina or feel sorry for her because to some degree she doesn’t deserve pity. She’s not a nice person–at all. But I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her because she is treated horribly by Anna, Kara, and all of her old “friends.” Still, Regina doesn’t completely learn from this because the cycle continues as Regina retaliates and is equally brutal. It’s alarming how much this hate spreads from person to person in the book. It’s alarming because this actually happens outside of books.

    At times, I wondered what else could possibly happen to Regina. What more were Anna, Kara, and the rest going to do to her? How was the story going to end? But it still went on. Summers creates this slow, bubbling of brutality on every page. One question I kept asking myself is “Where are Regina’s parents?” They are so completely oblivious and out of the picture, it’s sickening. I want to say it’s unrealistic, but I know that’s not true. I can’t tell you how many times I started saying things out loud to Regina like, “Tell your principal!” These characters are ruthless and horrible and need to be punished by an adult.

    I know Regina isn’t forthcoming with her parents because she is embarrassed, but I’m not completely sure why she doesn’t go to another adult or principal or something. Yes, she fears retaliation, but I think she also fears that no one will believe her. It’s messed up that we preach against bullying, yet there’s still this fear that no one will believe it when someone accuses another of bullying, especially when the bully is a “good kid.” I have a lot of say about the reason why Regina is thrown from the group, and I’m not sure if I should say because it’s slightly spoilery, but it’s also right at the beginning of the book, but I’m saving those thoughts for another post I’m currently drafting. Anyway, Some Girls Are brings up so much about school culture that needs to be addressed and changed.

    I’m simply not doing this book justice, but it’s a book that needs to be read and discussed with other people who have read it. It’s hard to write a review for it because there are so many layers and feelings to discuss. I hope you read it. I hope you read all of Courtney Summers’ books.

    Similar Books: Speechless by Hannah Harrington, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Leverage by Joshua C. Cohen

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Prodigy: A Legend Novel, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Marie Lu
    • Narrated By Steven Kaplan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (749)
    Performance
    (673)
    Story
    (680)

    June and Day arrive in Vegas just as the unthinkable happens: The Elector Primo dies, and his son Anden takes his place. With the Republic edging closer to chaos, the two join a group of Patriot rebels eager to help Day rescue his brother and offer passage to the Colonies. They have only one request: June and Day must assassinate the new Elector. It’s their chance to change the nation, to give voice to a people silenced for too long. But as June realizes this Elector is nothing like his father, she’s haunted by the choice ahead. What if Anden is a new beginning?

    KK says: "Loved it right up until the end"
    "Didn't love it, but will read the last book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Audiobook Review: I really enjoyed listening to Steven Kaplan and Mariel Stern narrate Prodigy by Marie Lu. I’ve decided that I like male audiobook narrators more than female narrators, and I’m not entirely sure why, but it holds true with Steven Kaplan narrating Day’s parts. He does a nice job differentiating between the characters, even more so than Mariel Stern did. I liked Mariel Stern for the part of June because she has almost a lilt to her voice that sounds right for June. The audiobook is a little over ten hours long, but it felt like it went faster than that. I didn’t listen to Legend, so I’m not sure how I’ll read the third book in this trilogy. I liked the audio enough that I’d be happy reading it that way.

    Book Review: Prodigy picks up right where Legend left off. I had a hard time getting into it when I was reading it in the traditional sense, which is why I switched to the audiobook. I don’t know why I was having a hard time reading it because once I started the audio I was really into the story.

    We learn a lot more about June and Day and the world is developed even more. I liked getting more information about Anden, the Republic, and the Patriots. I’m actually kind of torn about Anden because I didn’t want to like him, but I really do. He and June spend more time together in Prodigy and their interactions add a great level of intensity to the story. June and Day are more a part than together in Prodigy, but it made the scenes where they are together even more enjoyable to read. There’s lots of angst between them in this book.

    I didn’t love Prodigy which makes me feel like the only person in the book world who didn’t love it. I can’t even put my finger on what it was missing. A few parts kind of dragged, and it just wasn’t as good as Legend. The end of book is what really saved it for me. There’s lots of action and excitement towards the end. The actual ending, however, just about broke my heart. I have NO idea what to expect in the last book. I’m hoping that something will miraculously change so the story ends the way I want it to, but right now, I’m not so sure. What an emotional ending.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Maria Semple
    • Narrated By Kathleen Wilhoite
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2679)
    Performance
    (2406)
    Story
    (2405)

    Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

    Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle - and people in general - has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands.

    S says: "One of my top 10 listens of the year!"
    "Great narration, okay story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Audiobook Review:

    The audio for Where’d You Go, Bernadette is thoroughly enjoyable simply because of the narrator, Kathleen Wilhoite. She is expressive, enthusiastic, and engaging. I have a hardcover copy of this, but one of my students was reading it when I decided that I wanted to read it as well. My student still has my copy, and I’m having trouble remembering all of the characters’ names, so I can’t look back to be more specific. I bring this up because Wilhoite did such a good job reading the characters that Bernadette refers to as “gnats”. Many of the characters are, in my opinion, extremely dramatic. I’m not sure if I would have enjoyed those parts as much if I read this traditionally. The way Wilhoite depicted these dramatic episodes often made me smile and laugh because I could hear just how ridiculous the character was being.

    While the audio is entertaining to listen to, it is often hard to follow. The book is written using a series of emails, documents, letters, etc. which required me to focus more than normal while listening. I had to pay attention to the speakers, how they were communicating, why this was going on, etc. That was the most troubling part of the audio.

    Book Review:

    I loved the audio, but the actual book/story left me with mixed feelings. It’s been a few weeks since I finished reading Where’d You Go, Bernadette and I honestly don’t know what I think yet. For over half the book I kept wondering about the point of the story and where it was going. I finished it and still don’t know. Did I miss something major? Am I not smart enough to get it? Or is it really just a detailed account of a person’s life as a troubled adult? I’m trying to read more adult fiction to appeal to more of my students, which is part of the reason I read this. If a student asked me about it, I really wouldn’t know what to say. I’m looking forward to my student finishing my copy so we can discuss it.

    I do understand why the ALA Alex Award panel chose Maria Semple’s novel. Bee is a great teen character who’s struggling because of her parents. She’s smart and witty and fun, but she’s also dealing with her parents’ crumbling marriage and her mom’s bizarre episodes. I know plenty of teens who could relate to Bee. And ultimately, Bee’s voice becomes one of the most important voices in the entire novel.

    The book part of this review is short since I don’t know exactly what to say about it. I recommend the audio, and if you’ve read this, I would love to chat with you about it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Crown of Embers: Fire and Thorns, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Rae Carson
    • Narrated By Jennifer Ikeda
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (210)
    Performance
    (191)
    Story
    (187)

    She does not know what awaits her at the enemy's gate. Elisa is a hero. She led her people to victory over a terrifying, sorcerous army. Her place as the country's ruler should be secure. But it isn't. Her enemies come at her like ghosts in a dream, from foreign realms and even from within her own court. And her destiny as the chosen one has not yet been fulfilled. To conquer the power she bears, once and for all, Elisa must follow a trail of long-forgotten - and forbidden - clues, from the deep, hidden catacombs of her own city to the treacherous seas.

    M. Herbert says: "A phenomenal fantasy!"
    "I can't wait for the third book!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Review originally posted at YA Love

    Audiobook Review: I read The Girl of Fire and Thorns traditionally and absolutely loved it. Besides enjoying the narrator, the main reason I decided to listen to The Crown of Embers is because I don’t always like reading books in the middle of a series during the school year; most times I’d rather read a stand alone or the beginning of a series. I often save series continuations or endings for the summer when I feel like I have more freedom to read what I want, when I want. Anyway, I very much enjoyed Jennifer Ikeda as a narrator for this story. I honestly don’t know if I’ll read the third book traditionally or as an audio now that I’ve experienced both. What I liked most about listening to The Crown of Embers is being able to hear the correct pronunciations of names and places. I never knew how to pronounce Ximena while I was reading the first book, and of course, I was pronouncing it wrong. Jennifer Ikeda does a nice job bringing a different voice to each character and really bringing Elisa’s character to life.

    Book Review: I love this series. Rae Carson is such a talented fantasy author. I can’t wait to read book three, but I’m even more excited to see what other worlds and stories she’ll write in the future. I love her use of imagery and pacing. Picturing the setting comes easily as does imagining the characters.

    I can’t write this review without bringing up the relationship between Elisa and Hector. It’s such a strong friendship in the beginning and now it’s blossoming into something more. Even when Elisa was in love with Humberto, I was hoping she would recognize Hector as more than a guard. Their relationship might be a new favorite YA romance for me. Hector is so honorable and strong and Elisa is finally beginning to gain some self-confidence and strength. They’re a great match.

    The Crown of Embers is a bit slower than The Girl of Fire and Thorns, but I think that’s because so much more of the story is building. Elisa is maturing and really finding herself as a carrier of the Godstone and also as a queen. We’re also learning more about the Godstone and we’re learning more about the realm. I’m excited to see where all of this build-up is going to take us in book three, especially with an ending like we have in this book! The ending is bittersweet, but it also left me feeling proud of Elisa.

    Overall, I can’t recommend this series enough. I included The Girl of Fire and Thorns as a fantasy option in my YA II class and the majority of my students who chose it loved it. Many of them went on to read The Crown of Embers because they loved Elisa and her story so much.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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