Sunday, June 25, 2017

Walking and Listening to "Save Me A Seat"

Save Me A Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan
Scholastic Audio
3 hours and 58 minutes
Narrators Josh Hurley and Vikas Adams

This is the type of audio book that stays with you. While I finished listening to this book a little over a week ago, I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. I had an amazing discussion with the student, Kate, who recommended the book to me which brought up even more thoughts and feelings.

Told via alternating chapters, we meet Ravi who has just moved to town from India and Joe who has lived there his entire life. Both boys are starting fifth grade in the same situation, friendless and misunderstood. However their attitudes about it are completely different.  Ravi has always thrived at school and thinks he will fit in no problem, he's smart and eager to make friends. Joe dreads it because he is bullied, has an auditory processing disorder and his mom has begun working in the cafeteria. While Joe and Ravi sit next to each other in class, they don't hit it off. If only these two boys would talk to each other they would discover they have a lot more in common than they realize.

Side note: While it is rare for me to hate a book character, I found myself beyond hating Dillon. Yes, I get that this is what good writing is, but I just wanted to call his mother and scream at her. Kate didn't like him either and hated how he tricked Ravi into eating meat. She told me that calling his mother wouldn't make a difference because his mother was probably the same way and gave an example. Kids are seriously amazing.

Josh Hurley and Vikas Adams do a phenomenal job narrating this story. Every single character, no matter who they are, has their own very distinct and unique voice. You hear all the excitement, joy, humiliation, disappointment, sadness, shyness that the characters are feeling, but they do such an amazing job expressing those that you feel those emotions too. There is truly not one thing I would do to improve upon this narration. You have got to listen to this story.

The rock walls surrounding our school campus are covered in night blooming cereus. They are just stunning. Too bad they don't even last 24 hours.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Walking and Listening to "Shadow Magic"

Shadow Magic by Joshua Khan
Recorded Books
9 hours and 48 minutes
Narrator Ramon de Ocampo

When Thorn left home to find his father there is no way he could have predicted that he would become a slave, be sold to an executioner, ride the back of a giant bat, become friends with royalty and find himself wrapped up in a mystery. That is exactly what happened to him and then some.  How does all of this happen? Well, Thorn has no choice but to go with Tyburn, the executioner, once he is sold to Gehenna, where the House of Shadows rules. Shortly after arriving to Castle Gloom an engagement party is thrown for twelve year old Lily who is being forced to marry Gabriel from the House of Light. After refusing to dance with her future husband, Lily's dog accidentally drinks a poisonous drink intended for Lily and dies. Tyburn is convinced that the poisoner is the who he has been hunting for months and is behind the murder of Lily's parents and brother. Lily and Thorn have their own suspect and set out to to get to the bottom of it. They better hurry before another attempt on Lily's life is made.

I enjoyed listening to this story. Ramon de Ocampo's narration was great and held my attention. He kept the story moving along with his pacing and had great character vocalizations, all of which were very different and easily distinguishable. I think that kids will also enjoy listening to this dark fantasy story. If they are a bit squeamish, they may have a hard time listening to the description of zombies though, but it doesn't last that long.

Paddling season has begun and the canoes are in full force.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Walking and Listening to "The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse"

The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse by Brian Farrey
5 hours 2 minutes
Recorded Books
Narrator: Ann Marie Gideon

Being 12 years old isn't easy for anyone. But throw on top of that the fact that your mother is dying and you will soon become the queen and you have what Jeniah is facing. Jeniah has a lot to learn about ruling the Monarchy and as part of her lessons her mother reminds her not enter Dreadwillow Carse or the Monarchy will fall. Jeniah is inexplicably drawn to Carse. Deciding to go against her mother's warning, she heads to the forest and meets Aon, who too is drawn to the Carse. The two girls strike a deal. Aon will go into the Carse and share with Jeniah everything that she learns and in return Jeniah will find Aon's father who have been taken by the Crimson Hoods. With each visit to the Carse, Aon learns more about how it works, but each visit takes more and more out of her leaving her in a deep depression. Not wanting Aon to put herself in anymore danger, Jeniah asks her stop, but Aon just can't. She is learning a great deal and finds comfort in what she learns. 

We have had this book in the library for quite sometime now and for some reason or other I just hadn't picked it up. I wish I had read this book rather than listen to it. I really hate to say this, but Ann Marie's Gideon's narration of this story didn't hold my attention. I thought that the main characters voices were too similar and that they lacked emotion. Maybe that was intentional, the Monarchy is a place where happy is the only emotion felt, but I didn't even get the feeling of joy and happiness in the characters voices. I would suggest skipping  the audio version of this book and go with the reading of the physical book.

I loved the shadow this bird created. Such a big shadow for a smaller bird.