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Fangirl is about a girl named Cath who is just starting college. She leads a double life as a superstar fanfic author and now has to fit her writing into college life, and find her own voice as a writer and individual. I think all three of Rowell’s books have crossover appeal, and Fangirl deftly walks the line between YA and NA/Adult. She writes these great quirky, creative misfit types and I think Fangirl might be my favorite of the three Nebraska-set books.
Cath(er) is a twin- her sister is Wren, and they grew up with their dad in Omaha, Nebraska. Their mom took off on (the) September 11th and the trio was left to pick up the pieces. Cath retreated inward, preferring to spend time on the Simon Snow (Harry Potter-esque character) fandom and fic writing. Wren is more outgoing and vivacious and is ready to take college by storm, unwilling to take on the baggage of Cath as a roommate. Cath feels abandoned and overwhelmed, and her brash new roommate Reagan isn’t very welcoming. Plus she’s worried about her dad’s eccentric behavior at home.
Cath is a worrier, has social anxiety, and hordes protein bars so she doesn’t have to eat in the dining hall. She feels most comfortable in the world of her fic, a world where she’s quite successful. Cath is such a gifted writer she lands a spot in the junior-level Intro to Fiction writing, and hear she deals with a sketchy words-stealing writing partner, and a professor that frowns on Cath’s fic writing.
Levi is Reagan’s ex and he spends a lot of time in the girls’ room studying. He’s always around and slowly Cath realizes it’s not only to see Reagan. He is super sweet, supportive, and endearing – the perfect guy for Cath to fall for. He has a reading disability so likes to study by listening to class recordings, and loves when Cath reads her fanfic aloud to him. He is just too cute for words.
There are a lot of balls in the air with Fangirl- with the twin relationship, school, absent mom, troubled dad, and the merits of fanfic. All of these issues weigh on Cath’s mind, and make her first year of college a challenge and enlightening. I found Cath relatable, and I’ve definitely fangirled over books and TV series. It’s hard to step out of your comfort zone and move away from home, and I felt Cath’s struggle to balance real life and the characters in her fanfic.
Speaking of the fanfic, the book includes excerpts from Simon Snow, and Cath’s own fic so you’re following a story in the story in Fangirl. The transitions are easy to follow and let you see where Cath’s head is. The fandom is shown through the eyes of a writer, and show Cath worrying about getting her story finished before the last Simon Snow book is released, and keeping up with reader comments. It seems like Rowell knows a lot about fanfic.
I listened to the audiobook, read by Rebecca Lowman (Eleanor & Park narrator) and Maxwell Caulfield (from Grease 2!) Caulfield only reads the Simon Snow and fanfic passages, transporting the reader to Cath’s other world. I liked Lowman’s narration in E&P so it was an easy decision to pick up this audiobook. She’s great with voices, and I liked her sunny, gregarious voice for Levi, and her jaded, blunt voice for Reagan. Cath’s worries and insecurities come to life with Lowman’s delivery. The time flew by while I was listening to this audiobook. I have the book too since I love the cover and I like to experience my favorites in print and audio, but I don’t think you could go wrong with either.
There were a lot of lines I loved in this book, but I was listening to the audiobook so I didn’t really keep track of them. I’m eager to experience the book in print so I can take note of my favorites. I think Fangirl definitely has crossover appeal for readers of YA/NA and Contemporary Fiction, and you may love it even more if you’re a closeted (or not) fangirl yourself.
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.
Matthew Quick’s latest book, The Good Luck of Right Now, is a coming of age about a man learning to live on his own after his mother’s death. Bartholomew is pushing 40 but has missed a lot of social milestones, like making friends, having a drink with a girl at a bar, or getting a job. He’s working on his personal growth strategy by writing letters to Richard Gere, an actor his mother admired.
Like Quick’s other books, The Good Luck of Right Now is offbeat and filled with quirky characters, with a focus on mental health, religion, and personal discovery. It’s happy, sad, heartwarming, strange, and very entertaining.
Bartholomew Neil’s story plays out through his letters to Richard Gere. He spends his time going to church, talking with family friend, the recently “defrocked” Father McNamee, and studying up on Buddhism at the library. His crush on the “Girlbrarian” is another reason that Bartholomew needs a lot of study time.
Bartholomew also has an angry voice inside of him that eats at him and he has a lot to work through. Bartholomew’s grief counselor wants him to work on his self-improvement goals, and to be more independent. He meets a kindred spirit at a support group. Max is grieving his beloved cat, and his Tourette’s means the f-word appears almost every other word in his scenes. In what Bartholomew would call synchronicity, it turns out Max is the girlbrarian’s brother.
The action shifts from Philadelphia to Canada when the group of misfits leave town on an important cat/dad finding mission.
The title plays very much into the philosophy of the story, and refers to the flip side of bad luck. Bad, terrible things occur to the characters in the book, and Bartholomew’s mother taught him to put a positive spin on bad luck. Maybe their bad luck means someone else will have good fortune. It’s a theme that comes up time and again.
Oliver Wyman does an outstanding job with the audiobook narration, and really inhabits the characters. His Bartholomew is kind and sincere, but Wyman also brings that angry voice to life as well. I also really enjoyed his voice for the cat obsessed, foul-mouthed Max. The book is so cinematic in feel like Quick’s Silver Linings Playbook and benefits from Wyman’s skilled narration.
Though this book is written with an adult audience in mind, I think that it definitely has YA appeal, with its unconventional coming of age story. I really liked this offbeat story, and since there is a movie in the works, I’m already trying to cast it in my head. I hope Richard Gere makes a cameo at least! If you like quirky, heartwarming books about road trips, mental illness, and self-discovery, or Matthew Quick’s other books, this one might be right up your alley.
The Impossible Knife of Memory is about PTSD and how it effects the sufferer and those around them. Laurie Halse Anderson is never one to shy away from tough subject matters, and tackles PTSD with honesty and emotion. This issue is realistic and topical, and this edgy story is sure to resonate with many readers.
Hayley and her father Andy have never put down roots – Andy is a truck driver who home-schooled Hayley on the road. But now Andy thinks it’s time to settle in to his hometown so Hayley can attend high school. Andy is a war veteran with severe PTSD from his time serving in Iraq. Hayley grew up without a mom and has had to in many ways be the parent to her dad. He has daily struggles, and his flashback triggers bring on alcohol and drug abuse, and Hayley has to stay on top of him to take care of his basic needs.
Considering that Hayley has far more adult responsibilities than her peers, it’s hard for her to relate to the carefree students (she calls them zombies) at school. She doesn’t have the luxury of planning for college like the other students – who will look after her dad?
We get a glimpse of Andy’s state of mind through brief chapters in his POV. It’s clear he is in a troubled state of mind, but he chooses to self-medicate to cope rather than accept the medical and counseling help he needs.
Hayley has two non-zombie friends, her neighbor Gracie, and Finn, a nice guy at school who sees through to the real Hayley. Finn surprises Hayley by having demons of his own, and that helps to strengthen their bond.
Another complicated relationship is with Hayley’s sort-of stepmother Trish, who broke Hayley’s heart by walking out on the family. Now that she’s back in the picture, can Hayley forgive her and accept her help?
Andy and Hayley have a lot of healing to do and I wanted them to get the support they needed. Hayley is smart and funny and could have a bright future but she is in this holding pattern. She loves her dad dearly but doesn’t know how to help him at this point. Can she dare to hope for something more for her future- could she walk away?
Julia Whelan performs the nine-hour audiobook, with Luke Daniels performing Andy’s chapters. I’ve listened to Julia Whelan many times, and she’s good at inhabiting her characters. She performs Laurie Halse Andersons’ lyrical words with care and helps the story shine. And Luke Daniels illustrates Andy’s tortured state of mind with his delivery. This is a powerful story made more so by the riveting audio performance.
Laurie Halse Anderson has still got it, and her latest heavy-hitter doesn’t disappoint. Strong voice, character development, and story – you’re missing out if you’re not reading her books.
’ve never read Breakfast at Tiffany’s before this, though I saw the movie years ago. I was surprised to learn that the book is so different than the movie, and I feel like I need to watch it again now to compare. If you’ve only seen the film version of Breakfast at Tiffany’s you may be interested to read the source material behind the classic film. The tone is totally different, and there are some major plot changes.
The story centers on Holly Golightly, a flawed and flighty girl of nineteen living in New York City. She wakes up her neighbors late at night, and asks them to let her into her apartment since she always forgets her key. That’s how she meets her neighbor, the unnamed narrator of the story. Holly dubs the narrator Fred after her brother, and the two become friendly. “Fred” is a writer, and the free-spirited, dark and damaged Holly is his muse. Fred gets caught in the web of Holly’s crazy life.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s was originally published in 1958 and the slim novella packs a lot of story into its 150 or so pages. Truman Capote’s writing makes you feel like you’re the narrator getting to know Holly, and leaves you just as captivated/confused/appalled as he is. It is a complex character portrait that kept me guessing to the end.I can imagine this book was quite controversial for its day, especially in regards to the frank discussion of sexual identity, and even gay marriage.
This is his Michael C. Hall's first audiobook performance, and he really commits to the story. I think the audiobook is the perfect way to experience the book for the first time. Hall’s tone has a richness to it, and he makes each character sound distinct. Hall uses different accents and voices in his performance that help to paint a vivid picture. I preferred his male voices in the audiobook overall, but Halls’ Holly captures her quirky and complicated essence. At just under 3 hours long, this audiobook delivers a compelling, nostalgic story.
One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories is a collection of 60+ short stories, some just a line or two and some that you can really sink your teeth into. Novak is a stand up comic and performed these stories in front of an audience while he was working on the book. These stories are smart, literary pieces that showcase Novak’s quirky sense of humor. Novak definitely has some writing chops, and his stories are observant, clever, intellectual, and whimsical. There’s a range of stories and moods that keep you on your toes and entertained. Novak’s humor is offbeat and surprising and his stories thought provoking. There are even some discussion questions at the end of the book that made me laugh.
The book starts off with a story about a rematch between The Tortoise and The Hare that kicks off the book on a high note. I also really liked Missed Connection, No One Goes to Heaven to See Dan Fogelberg, and Julie and The Warlord. His humor is daring and bold, as you can also see in stories like The Comedy Central Roast of Nelson Mandela.
Though these stories are smart, witty and thoughtful, Novak makes them accessible. There’s something for everyone in these stories, and the short story format makes it easy to fit in whether you have time to read a little or a lot.
B.J. Novak performs most of the narration of this almost 7-hour audiobook. The stories lend themselves well to audio especially considering Novak perfected these stories before a live audience in the first place. His comic timing, energy and tone brought the stories to life and I think he was the best person to narrate this collection. Novak performs probably about 90% of the book, and there are some celebrity friends that also join in the fun. Mindy Kaling, Jenna Fischer, Emma Thompson, and Rainn Wilson perform some of the stories and made the book even more special. I don’t think I recognized Katy Perry’s voice in the book so I’ll have to go back and listen to her performances. There are audiobook credits at the end of the book so you can find out who reads each story.
The humor in One More Thing is fresh and different. It wasn’t haha lol funny for me personally, but more on the clever and insightful side. Keep in mind the humor is on the adult side – I don’t want you to be surprised by any choice words if you’re listening with any young and impressionable ones. On that note, B.J. Novak also has a children’s book coming out this fall called The Book with No Pictures.
I took a chance on the audiobook and I’m not sure this was the best decision. While I liked the story, I didn’t love the audiobook narration. Overall I think the premise is good and the fast paced, action packed story seems to be heading down an interesting path. Enclave paints a bleak world, with evolved “freaks” and hidden dangers lurking around. The protagonist Deuce is a brave huntress trying to find the right path in an uncertain world.
In this post apocalyptic world the remaining survivors are living in underground tunnels. The human life span is now very short, and only if the children (called “Brats”) make it to age fifteen do they even get an official name. Once they are named, they can then choose the title of breeder, builder or hunter. Deuce has just completed the naming ceremony and has chosen the huntress path. She now must hunt for food and fight any flesh eating zombie like “Freaks” that get in her way. Deuce is paired up with Fade, a boy who grew up topside. Once she starts exploring on her hunting missions, Deuce finds that the stories she has been told about life outside the enclave may not be as true as she thought.
The story is mysterious and suspenseful, and since Deuce has been in the dark so is the reader. There is not a lot of information about Deuce’s world and how things got to be so bad. I would expect more of the blanks to be filled in with future installments. Deuce and the others in the enclave have grown up believing they won’t live long, they have to stay underground and away from the dangers above ground. No one seems to question this before Deuce becomes a huntress.
The protagonist Deuce is the character I felt most connected to. She is a brave huntress, curious, and strong. Her life has changed overnight and she is trying to adjust with each new challenge thrown at her. It’s interesting seeing the world outside the underground through her eyes because she is like a fish out of water; everything is new to her. Fade is her friend and potential love interest. He has more knowledge of the topside world since he was born there and can fill in some of the blanks for Deuce. Fade seems to have some competition for Deuce as another suitor is introduced.
Fade and Deuce meet many new characters on their mission, and it’s hard to know who can be trusted. The freaks are another mysterious element in the story. I think they are supposed to be zombies, and some of them are smarter and evolved so they are more difficult to stop.
As I listened to this story and envisioned the Deuce character, I imagined she would sound like a brave huntress, and sound similar to the narrator of Divergent or even the narrator of Delirium. The narrator of Enclave sounds younger and more innocent than I expected for the character. I understand she does need to sound naive due to her age and experience but for me the voice doesn’t match up to how I thought the character would sound.
Overall, the story has potential and should appeal to fans of darker post apocalyptic and action-oriented YA books. It’s not my favorite audiobook, so I recommend reading the book version.
I admit I was worried that this series had started to run out of steam after reading the tenth installment, Bite Club, but I’m happy to say that the latest Morganville book put my mind at ease. Last Breath offers lots of surprises, reveals, action and emotion that make it one of the most satisfying of the series so far. Literally no one is safe this time from Morganville’s latest threat where the twists just keep coming. I couldn’t have predicted any of the events that occurred this time around, and I love that Rachel Caine is taking so many exciting risks with her characters and providing such a juicy storyline this late in the series.
This time around in Morganville there’s a new threat that even has the vampires scared. Vampires are disappearing left and right and Amelie fears that the dreaded enemy that has hunted them for years has finally found them. It’s interesting to learn about this new threat and what makes it so powerful and lethal to everyone in Morganville. Claire, Shane, Eve and Michael are facing a huge challenge, and I was holding my breath to see how they would come out of it. Through multiple narrations of Claire, Michael, Eve, Shane and Amelie, we get more character reveals that give a new insight into our favorite Morganvillian’s. There is also plenty of Myrnin as well and he plays a key role in this book.
The characters go on quite a journey this time around. And the relationships they have built with each other and the other members of Morganville really make the events that occur that much more touching and meaningful. There is just the right amount of time spent with each character to move the story along and keep things interesting. The beginning of the book really threw me off track with how I expected the story to go, and the action just kept ramping up. There are plenty of emotional and romantic scenes though that balance out the drama and suspense. In fact, some of the biggest insights and vulnerabilities of the characters are revealed this time around.
This is the third installment I’ve read via audiobook, and I think this is now my favorite way to experience this series. The narrator, Cynthia Holloway, does an expert job with the characters. From Myrnin to Amelie, Claire to Shane, all of the character voices are distinct and believable. They match up very well to the character voices in my head, and the narration conveys the appropriate amount of emotion and intensity.
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.
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.
Cinder is a 16-year-old cyborg mechanic who lives in New Beijing after World War IV. She was in an accident as a kid, and saved with robotic parts, including a robotic foot that stands in for Cinderella’s iconic glass slipper. Cinder is an outsider in society, though she is known as one of the best mechanics in New Beijing. Her accident left her without a memory of her time before, and her past is a mystery waiting to be unraveled. Like the fairy tale, Cinder lives with her awful stepmother and two stepsisters, though with a twist. There is also a prince and a ball, but otherwise Cinder spins it’s own story, and there are a lot of surprises in store. Some of the challenges Cinder faces are the deadly plague that’s hit New Beijing, political unrest, family drama, and managing the attention of the young and single Prince Kai.
The heroine Cinder is my favorite part of the story. She is likable, smart and brave, and very human in spite of her robotic parts and extraordinary abilities. The other characters also added a lot to the story, both the androids and the humans. The romance with Prince Kai is refreshingly done and I can’t wait to see how it develops in future installments.
The plot moves at a swift pace, and quickly pulled me in. It was fun seeing how the Cinderella story played out in Cinder’s dystopian cyborg world. The retelling is similar enough to the original to catch the references but with enough of a twist to keep things interesting. Even though I don’t read a ton of Sci-Fi, it was easy to follow along and I could totally envision the world that Meyer creates.
I listened to the audiobook, and narrator Rebecca Soler does a stellar job with the narration. She gives a lively reading and sounds like how I would imagine Cinder to sound. Her pacing is very good and she reads with the emotion that is called for. She handles the different male and female voices and accents with ease, and injects Cinder’s sense of humor into the reading. I actually liked the narrator so much I downloaded another audiobook that she reads to check out. This is a good audiobook to try if you’ve ever been interested to test out the experience.
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