Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Reader Response: Amazing Audiobooks

Reader Response: Amazing Audiobooks

2015 August 24

The following is a reader response from BJ Neary, who participated in and finished the 2015 Hub Reading Challenge.
This is my second year participating and completing The Hub Reading Challenge.  I am an avid reader of all things YA- enjoying all genres in YA especially nonfiction, novels in verse, and series books.  This year I discovered I had read many books on the list.  So I decided to push myself and delve into audiobooks in the Challenge.  Below are just a few of the award winning titles I listened to and RECOMMEND in the Amazing Audiobook section of the 2015 Hub Reading Challenge.
love letters dead audioLove Letters to the Dead  by Ava Dellaira was awesome. Laurel is still reeling from the death and loss of her older sister, May.  Laurel has transferred to a new school. In English her first assignment is to write a letter to a dead person. This assignment begins a year- long letter writing campaign from Laurel to Kurt Cobain, Judy Garland, River Phoenix, Amelia Earhart, Amy Winehouse, poets and many more…What I liked about these letters is that Laurel researches each subject and the reader learns about the lives of these dead people and we see parallels to May, Laurel, and her family. As Laurel struggles with her guilt, her silence, her own self- image, and her idealization of May…who will she become? As a reader, I savored the New Mexico setting, the flawed (but real) characters, the letters, and Laurel’s journey.  Teens will relate to Laurel, Sky, Natalie, and Hannah in their daily lives and interpersonal relationships in high school.
acidaudioAcid by Emma Pass – I couldn’t stop listening as Jenna Strong is imprisoned by the police (the most barbaric force known as ACID) for murdering her parents when she was 15 years old. But all is not as it seems; if you love action, suspense, and thrillers; you will not soon forget Jenna’s world of lies, espionage, and sinister brutality—what will she do to remember her life as it was and as it is now? This audiobook has riveting plots, characters (nasty and nice) and a dystopian world you won’t forget! 
revolution audioRevolution by Deborah Wiles – What I enjoyed most was the factual speeches from the 1960s and news stories  interspersed with white Sunny’s story of civil rights workers coming to her town in Mississippi and getting blacks out to vote. Sunny’s teen viewpoint was key- she did not know about racism and segregation other than what she hears (“they are invaders”) from her family and others in charge.  Sunny learns so much more that summer as events unfold, friendships are made and broken, and families are mended.
define normal audioDefine Normal by Julie Ann Peters – LOVED it. Both girls are fantastic protagonists, although the story is told solely from Antonia’s point of view.  Antonia is peer counseling Jazz Luther who is her total opposite. As I listened to this compelling audiobook I realized why I love Julie Ann Peters’ books- she gets teens. This book is no different- both Jazz and Antonia have “stuff” going on and teens will be riveted reading or listening to this book; can seeming “opposites” get along, trust each other, and become friends?
half bad audioHalf Bad by Sally Green is an amazing psychological thriller audiobook! I loved Carl Prekopp’s narration; he was gripping and mesmerizing as Nathan. In a future England, Nathan is half white witch and half black witch and it is being the son of notorious black witch, Marcus, that brands him an outsider—even his own sister, Jessica, hates him. Thankfully Nathan has a wonderful and sympathetic brother, Aaron.  Aaron is sweet, trusting, and very protective of Nathan. But Aaron is not bullied, beaten up, or branded “BAD” like Nathan. Will Nathan be able to elude the hunters and survive until his 17th birthday and receive his three important powers of magic? Will he be able to survive in a world that does not want him or his father?
-BJ Neary

Mosquitoland by David Arnold

MosquitolandMosquitoland by David Arnold
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The saga of Mim ( known as Mary Iris Malone) as she travels by Greyhound bus from Mississippi (Mosquitoland) to Cleveland is hilarious, sad, and daunting. As an immature 16 year old, Mim captivated me with her words, thoughts, feelings and wacky ideas as she makes her way back to a mother she loves (and maybe back to herself too). The cast of characters she meets (Arlene, Walt Beck are a few of the good people) will make your reader heart happy while the villains (Poncho Man specifically) will scare and horrify. I have not met a character like Mim before and I did not want to stop reading her opinions, fantasies, ironies and notions of romance. Hers is a slice of life teens will love. I am looking forward to more David Arnold books! Highly recommended, to teens and adults!!!

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Friday, August 21, 2015

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

P.S. I Still Love You (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #2)P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This sequel was just as good as Han's first book, To All the Boys I've Loved Before, but even more probing of teens, romantic entanglements, and being true to ones' self. Lara Jean is really dating Peter, the guy she fell for back in 7th grade; but with his ex constantly part of their dating, can Lara Jean be sure enough of herself and Peter's feeling for her to rise above Genevieve's evil machinations? I did not want to put this book down; Lara Jean struggles like any teens, making good and bad choices, what will she do if some other guy from her past letter surfaces; enjoyable reading, one of my favorites! Make it one of yours!

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To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

To All the Boys I've Loved Before (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #1)To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jenny Han is one of my new favorite authors with this book and the sequel, P.S, I Still Love You. Lara Jean is one of three Song sisters, the middle child, who is sweet, fearful, and convincing as a protagonist who grows into a teen we can all relate to with her hopes, wishes and fears. As she grows up and writes letters (puts them into her mom's hat box for safe keeping) to boys she has loved (but never dated, just crushed on)Lara Jean is startled to find all her letters have been sent to those boys and craziness ensues!!! I loved this book because it was a rom/com but deals with difficult, serious topics teens will recognize all to well. I was so luck to get both books on ILL, so I jumped into the 2nd book right away! Teens will love this book looking at romance, high school, and families, highly recommended!

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Thursday, August 13, 2015

None of the Above by I. W. Gregorio

None of the AboveNone of the Above by I.W. Gregorio
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Loved this book! When I was a librarian (I am retired), there were so many students who looked for books like None of the Above. Krissy is a very nice, normal teen who is going to college on a track scholarship, is in love with Sam and has just been voted Homecoming Queen! But life stops being rosy and Krissy is plunged into a nightmare when her visit to the gynecologist reveals she has male parts; she is identified as intersex. Even worse, she confides to her best friends and then her whole world knows and begins judging, bullying, etc. Teens and adults (parents, teachers, guidance counselors, school nurses) need to read this book- this is part of the real world; it is gut wrenching, eye opening, and tells a powerful story with facts, emotions, and growing knowledge (and coping) by Krissy and her dad. The author afterward was especially eye opening; highly recommended!!!
A must read and part of my summer reading with #2jennsbookclub; join the twitter chat 8/20 @8pm EST!

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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Murderer's Daughter by Jonathan Kellerman

The Murderer's DaughterThe Murderer's Daughter by Jonathan Kellerman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thank you to NetGalley, Random House Publishing Group –Ballantine and Ballantine Books for the ARC, The Murderer’s Daughter by Jonathan Kellerman. This psychological mystery was intriguing due to the main character, Grace Blades, and her life story she shares only with the reader. Grace has above average intellect, poise, detachment, and inner thoughtfulness. As a young child she becomes an orphan when her parents turn on each other and death ensues. In alternating chapters, Grace tells her story of foster care and her life as it unfolds into adulthood. I didn’t really like Grace Blades but I admired her tenacity, sharp mind, and keen intellect. It is not surprising that she becomes a very successful psychologist; so nurturing to her patients but remaining aloof and detached in her own life. I enjoyed being right there with her as Grace uses all her knowledge and savvy to solve mysteries and I look forward to reading other Grace Blades books!

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Thursday, August 6, 2015

All the Light You Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

All the Light We Cannot SeeAll the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a beautiful, haunting book! Doerr's look at WWII & the Holocaust also delves into characters' lives before the war- Marie Laure & Werner are the main, rich characters who are defined by their families (one blind, the other an orphan) and as the book jumps between 1940 and 1944 the reader is immersed in their worlds and cannot break away as war envelopes them and their lives are irrevocably changed. I loved the depth and breadth of this book; will be thinking about snails, radio transmitters, puzzles for a very long time; highly recommended to adults and HS readers who cover The Holocaust in school.

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