Woodland, CA, United States | Member Since 2011
Gregor is 11 years old and left at home to watch his baby sister, Boots, who is 2 years old and his grandmother who has trouble keeping her mind in the here and now.
It's summer. It's hot. And all Gregor can think is that it's pathetic that he's excited over the fact he gets to get out of the house for a few hours to do laundry.
Then...his sister falls down a......what? He dives after her and falls too, and what they find is a fantastical world where they are called "Overlanders".
Gregor is not sure about trusting these strangers, especially with his baby sister, but they gradually earn his trust....and his respect....and ultimately a gratitude he can never repay.
The world is strange; but described so well it's easy to visualize. Gregor doesn't think he's much of a "warrior" when a prophecy in the Underland seems to point to the fact that he is, and what he fights with would win no battles here in the Overland.
The choices he makes are so natural, so human, so real, it's easy to feel after a bit that you, the reader, are living it with him. Other characters are very three dimensional, and all the main ones change in some way throughout the book.
Wonderful as a good book or a good bedtime story; take your pick. Highly recommend for an escape!
Suzanne Collins paints a portrait out of her imagination of an immense Underland so vivid it does make me want to take a second look at anything that may go "down". Paul Boehmer narrates amazingly and believably both an old man's voice and the voice of a two year old little girl. (How do they do this?) Fantastic book; fantastic narration. A joy to read.
This story surprised me! Emily Pollifax is an older woman, busy with much volunteer work, but not really happy.In fact, as her doctor notes, she is suffering from mild depression.
However, Mrs. Pollifax does not turn to an anti-depressant. She turns to a dream she had from her youth -- that of becoming a spy.
Her approach to getting that job is phenomenally unique and full of good humor. I enjoyed it from cover to cover (as it were). Enough to listen yet again, and again after that.
Emily Pollifax is intriguing not because she is so outwardly different from women her age, but because of how she looks at life. She comes across as a "doddering old woman" yet she does amazing astounding things that people in their young adult years might find too demanding. But Emily doesn't do these because she's in "shape" to do so. She does them because they befall her.
Her spirit is what is so commendable, and while she like all of us has her "grumpy" moments, for the most part her openness to life in general and learning specifically are truly inspirational. But mostly she is far more interesting that one would expect. In fact, she is completely Unexpected.
Highly recommend to all ages.
Barbara Rosenblat does a wonderful job of creating the voice of Emily Pollifax, making her more alive and believable than print could do.
The City of Ember is the first book and The People of Sparks is the second.
The People of Sparks are "put upon" by more than the whole population of their own town when 417 people arrive in one day, all needing shelter and food and water. Good intentions wear thin with hardship and the reader is shown the difficulty of both sets of people. The argument for difficulty and impossible expectations are well defined and so reasonable it's easy to see how any of us would feel the same in either position.
This story also teaches how wars start -- on a small scale. It shows that people do not have to be evil in order to have both misunderstanding and fear coalesce into a dangerous mob without much to urge it on.
It is also a story of forgiveness and courage, as well as the way to stop war.
Taken together this is far more than just a story of a post-apocalyptic world. There is not much description of the "Disaster" though it is simply explained. The astonishing thing about these two books is the depth of wisdom and insight about people. How we function, how we respond to uncertainty, strangers, new places, and how easy it is to believe that our own way of life is the only way, even if it isn't the best way.
This story is written from and seen through the eyes of children between the ages of about 9 to 13 and has the resulting success of answering all the questions the reader would have.
Wendy Dillon's voice is soothing as well as flexible. Her rendition of the different people is almost unnoticeable it is so smoothly done.
This is an amazing book when combined with it's predecessor The City of Ember. If I could give my grandchild only 2 books, I would give him these two.
First, the narrator is so perfectly chosen for this book as to be nearly eerie; as though the author first met the narrator then wrote a book around the narrator's voice.
Action packed, magically involved, and all in a "now" time, there is much tension as well in this young adult story of magic, humor and action-packed "fight the bad guys" good moments.
Young Stephanie leads a regular life, with regular (and good) parents and she's truly bored. Then, Stephanie loses a beloved uncle and at his funeral meets someone who will forever change not only her life but her own understanding of who and what she really is: one Skulduggery Pleasant, a person who is so wrapped in clothing one cannot see his features. But that voice...that voice....
Skulduggery is a detective, yes, even as a sort of undead person, and he continues in his vocation as Stephanie insists he must help her find out who murdered her uncle. She feels she owes her favorite uncle that much.
This has violence in it, but somehow the author wraps it up around the edges with true gallows humor.
I found myself laughing in despite. On the second listen, I was far more able to focus on the story and laugh easily at the odd humor. By the third listen, I was pretty crazy for it. This is a tension filled story that is both light with humor and dark with magical doings of both good and "evil" characters. The characters aren't deeply drawn except for the main character and her protagonist, but they don't need to be. The action carries the story forward well.
The paperback version of this trilogy gets a full 5 stars from me. The story is astounding, and far more detailed, of course, than what we will see in it's movie versions.
However, the audio book was frustrating to me. I really don't know how exactly she does it, but somehow Carolyn McCormick adds a dimension to Katniss Everdeen that does not exist in the book version: she sounds like a whiny, rather priggish, sort of self-centered not-nice-word-for-a-girl. And that is NOT the way Katniss appeared to me when I read the actual written paperback trilogy.
So ... needless to say that is a rather large drawback.
On the whole I rely on audio books because I tire very easily and they are much less energy demanding than holding the book and doing the reading myself. I would PREFER to do the reading myself because I get to paint my own picture in my head, even down to each character and the narrator if there is one, but frankly my physical being isn't up to it all the time.
I do wish there was a choice on many books of narrators: at least two narrators for any book or trilogy. (But I guess that would cause a glut of great jobs for narrators.)
The whole story is here; all three books. And the words are certainly all there. If this narrator appeals to you rather than offends or irritates, you'll love it as much as reading it yourself.
The story is a simple yet profound one: how far is too far when the "leaders" take everything and take over and the "people" are left with imminent threats to their survival? This trilogy paints a grim, yet possible story of one way that could all come about.
I would say common sense should keep this at age 13 years or above.
The main character knows, and lives, and tells of his very close encounter with ... well, that would give it away wouldn't it? But here, Stephen King has struck out into an area of writing I have not personally experienced with him before. (Since I have NOT read all his books, I do not know for sure if it's a new genre for him or not.) Time travel. Best left to old sci-fi writers and Connie Willis, don't you think? Well, Stephen King is a Master Storyteller, and seems completely unencumbered having his characters travel around in time. The story is long, and extremely suspenseful, intriguing, humorous, sad (sometimes enough to make me cry anyway) and joyful and celebratory. The entire book hangs together just fine, and frankly I still can't believe how many hours it supposedly is. It rushes by and I'm re-listening yet again. It's a beautiful story, full of the "love letter" to the 50's and 60's so well known in Stephen King's work, with a good strong statement about the fact that it wasn't all "Andy and Opie". The characters are so real, I feel like I could meet them accidentally somewhere and recognize them right off.
The narrator: Craig Wasson astounds me. His voice is gentler than Stephen King's voice, and yet somehow there is a similarity I can't quite put my finger on. However, I would warn, since this is an audio book, that at times the volume of the character's voices as read by Craig Wasson get VERY loud, and one might just make sure the volume button is close at hand. That said, there is good reason for the characters to occasionally get loud. As per most Stephen King books, this is an adult tale, including death, horror, love-making and deep friendship.
I'm doing my best to write a review of the BOOK not the author, but it is hard. I am not and have never been a die-hard Stephen King fan. I'm very picky with what I read that he writes. I'm not a fan of horror stories at all, yet this one somehow still made it to me. Does it contain horror? Well, yes. And, in light of the date 11-22-63, the day President J.F.K. was assassinated, one would think most folks would know there is going to be at least that horror in the story. But here is much more.
A 28 year old school teacher who's getting a divorce but is still virginal? A high school Principal who would scare most people off with her stiffened appearance and sarcasm with a heart of gold, an aging old man who runs a diner and has a very big secret in his pantry, and Jake ... Jake, who somehow falls down the proverbial rabbit hole into 1958...once by accident and again with great purpose.
An intricately woven, many-threaded, fascinating story revolving around the shooting of J.F.K. that all hangs together and delivers on all promises? How can you resist that? I couldn't and I have zero buyer's remorse. This one was definitely worth it.
Hearing The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe from The Chronicles of Narnia is a rare treat. When reading it is easy to skip places that seem dull, but in listening one skips nothing. The sheer power of this story is astounding, it's allegory not far away.
Michael York is a delight to listen to. I want him to read ALL my books for me!
This book is actually book #2 of the series, the first one being "The Magician's Nephew". I do hope they get around to narrating all 7 books, and of course, I want Michael York to narrate each and every one.
This book is about 4 children who were sent to an Uncle's house in the country to keep them away from the bombing in London during the war. The house is huge and seemingly inexhaustible, and somehow the youngest of the Pevensie children, Lucy, stumbles onto a doorway into another world called Narnia where a scary Witch has turned all to Winter forever (and never Christmas!).
At first the four siblings, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy, think that this is just a place they are visiting. Soon they are caught up in the strange land's storyline and travel to many places to set things right at the bidding of a magical mysterious lion named Aslan.
If you are familiar with this story, hearing it will give you a new look at it. If you've never read the books or watched the movie, this is an excellent way to start. Get it from the source, and with an excellent narrator to boot!
"Arrows of the Queen" by Mercedes Lackey, Narrated by Carole Edie Smith is pure excellence. The characters are so real you cry and laugh with them, the places are so real you can see them in your mind's eye.
One thing I demand in a good story is at least one character that has morally redeemable qualities. What a grand surprise to find a book full of these kinds of characters! And yes, of course there are the villains. And they are just as believable.
Talia, a child of a Hold, otherwise known as "Holderkin" has a severely strict upbringing including large doses of fear and shaming. Then, like a dream (but not a dream!) she is rescued and carried away on a magical "horse" called a Companion. This is only the beginning of Talia's adventures, not to mention her chance to blossom into the person she really is.
While this is almost a "coming of age" story, set in a fantasy world, there are two more books that follow it: Arrow's Flight, and Arrow's Fall. They can be found in paperback. I don't believe they are available here. I would have loved it if they were.
If you believe that Truth, Honesty, Courage, Bravery, Loyalty, Intelligence and Kindness is what we should have in our world, you will LOVE Talia's world (once she leaves the Hold).
I highly recommend this to individuals who deeply value ... well, values! I'd also highly recommend giving it to teens, as it never gets too gory and never goes into details about sex. Both are present, but are not given too much time. The main driving storyline is quite enough to keep you listening or reading.
I believe that the narrator of Mere Christianity, Mr. Geoffrey Howard, has done a good job in tone and inflection to reflect accurately what C.S. Lewis was getting at in this book. However, being slightly prone to a bad response to being
I love the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis both print and audio versions; as these are fantasy books and the narrator generally has a gentle voice, the kind a child would love to hear at bedtime.
The moment that moved me particularly in this book was when C.S. Lewis spelled out, clearly and simply (and rather unarguably) what, exactly, Christianity is; what it believes at it's core. I think that it has much value just on that alone.
C.S. Lewis comes at the question of what exactly is Christianity in a very logical, very pragmatic way, which is different than what most of us are used to. That is what drew me to this book. I would recommend it to anyone who isn't bothered by a little preaching.
The Book Thief is decidedly dark, set in a dark time, and a dark place: Nazi Germany during World War II. The narrator is a character as well, though an unusual one. I'm still not certain he has any "form" to speak of, or at least not one in this plane of existence. All that being said, The Book Thief has amazing moments of utter hilarity, and lighter moments of just living life along with very dark, and very secret things: "I have a Jew in my basement" is something never said aloud, but a good example of the last.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is an amazing, and astonishing story. Most books written about World War II have specific heroes and villains: on both sides. However, in the Book Thief, the reader/listener (unabridged) is introduced, or sometimes re-introduced, to childhood again. While the situation of WWII is felt deeply by the child followed by the narrator, she is still a child with a child's view of a child sized world. Mr. Zusak managed to capture the nearly utter lack of information many children had and have about the true nature of what is happening (e.g. a war has broken out and their country is involved) in a way that is immediately believable and I found to be recognizable. The narrator, on the other hand a character as well, is studiously the opposite of a child. He is quite world-weary. The audio book's narrator Allan Corduner does a fantastic job; neither awkward nor overbearing, his reading flawless, and a beautiful voice to listen to. I was surprised and enthralled by the story, and grateful for such a good narrator.
I have not read (only listened to) this book myself, so it is an unusual case for me. Normally, I like to read a book before I get it on audio. However, since a friend gifted it to me, I got to have this experience, and with this particular book, it works resoundingly well. It is quite long, some 13+ hours, but I found myself rushing on and on in it, unable to stop listening as much as I am often unable to put down a really good book. The type you even take to the bathroom with you, and out again. The type you give up an otherwise good night's sleep for, and have no regrets over. I would recommend it to friends who aren't afraid of dark fiction.
This book is about a child, but as a parent, I would want to read/listen to it myself before handing it over to my child. On the other hand, had I found my child reading it, I would have been ultimately pleased; depending on how old my child was at the time. So, follow the guidelines if you are concerned about such things, and when all else fails, read it yourself first. I doubt you'll regret it, whether you view it as something for your child or not.
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