Tag Archives: ya

Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane by Suzanne Collins

Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane by Suzanne Collins (unabridged audiobook read by Paul Boehmer; 6.5 hrs on 6 discs): When cockroaches abscond with his baby sister, Gregor once again finds himself in the Underland, once again risking life and limb to fulfill a prophecy. Mostly this book was just okay. While I can see my younger self enjoying this, as an adult I found the prophecy angle far less interesting than it tried to be. Yes, the prophecy will come true but not in the way you expect it to. That’s just how it always go. And I’d be more forgiving except that that’s exactly what happened in the previous book in this series. I guess if you adored the first book and want that all over again, then you’ll like this one. As for me, I think I’ll be giving the rest of the series a miss.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins

Gregor The Overlander by Suzanne Collins (unabridged audiobook read by Paul Boehmer; 6.5 hrs on 6 discs): This is sort of Alice in Wonderland for urban kids. When Gregor and his baby sister Boots fall through a grate in the laundry room, they find themselves in an amazing world of pale-skinned but normal-sized humans who live among enormous bats, rats, cockroaches, and spiders. Gregor soon learns that this is where his father went when he went missing more than two years prior, and immediately sets off on a quest to find him. Coincidentally, this all matches up with an old prophecy, the fulfillment of which drives much of the story. It was a decent adventure story and I plan on reading the next book in the series, but the world itself didn’t grab me as much as I’d expected it to. I had a lot of trouble picturing the surroundings for some reason. I did, however, appreciate the way a bunch of relatively overused story elements (underground cities, prophecies, rescues) came together in surprising ways. I liked how you could never be quite sure who to believe. Hopefully the next one is similarly unpredictable.

A note on the audio: Boehmer read the “geographic voices” quotes in Don’t Know Much about Geography by Kenneth C. Davis, which I wouldn’t have even noticed except that I just listened to it. Just a strange coincidence.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

The Water Castle by Megan Frazer Blakemore

The Water Castle by Megan Frazer Blakemore (unabridged audiobook read by Chris Henry Coffey; 8.25 hrs on 7 discs): When his father has a stroke, Ephraim’s family moves to Maine to live in his ancestral home, a place called the Water Castle because his family used to bottle the local spring water and sell it. The town of Crystal Springs is full of unusually talented people, which makes Ephraim feel even more out of place. Soon, however, he begins to suspect there is something strange going on in his family’s home. With the help of some new friends, he investigates a legacy that goes back more than a century. Tied into all this are the North Pole expeditions of Robert Peary, Matthew Henson, and Frederick Cook. This mix of fantasy and history and mysterious old houses is right up my alley. I liked this story as an adult, but I would have loved it in middle school. I was forever hoping for secret passages and magical relics to uncover. The story took a little bit to really get going, and the ending was a little abrupt (without technically leaving anything hanging), but otherwise it was a lovely little tale.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz: Once Upon a Time, all fairy tales were connected. That’s the long and the short of this book, which follows the lives of Hansel and Gretel from their parents’ first meeting through the gingerbread house and beyond. I wasn’t familiar with any of the tales besides the classic gingerbread house, but they were all told like regular fairy tales, with things happening in threes and characters not having names and things like that. What makes this memorable, though, are the constant interruptions by the narrator to comment, explain, or (most often) warn of/apologize for the violence. The original Grimm tales were pretty bloody, and while this book leaves nothing out, it doesn’t dwell on the gore either. If you like fairy tales you’ll probably enjoy this one, but be sure to heed the narrator when he tells you to make sure there aren’t any little children around for certain parts. That said, older children would probably get a kick out of it.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

Peeps by Scott Westerfeld

Peeps by Scott Westerfeld: We might call them vampires, but in Cal’s world, they’re called “parasite positives,” or peeps. They have similar symptoms: an aversion to sunshine and other familiar things, a thirst for blood, an affinity for rats, that sort of thing. Shortly after starting college in New York City, Cal spends the night with a woman and winds up a carrier of the disease himself – all the special powers without the nasty side-effects – and is later recruited to help hunt down all the women he’s infected. The idea of vampirism-as-disease is not new, but I’d never seen it done quite like this before. Every other chapter is about real-life parasites, so if you’re squeamish about such things, you probably want to skip those parts. Personally, I found it all fascinating (if a bit stomach-churning at points), and I enjoyed Cal’s adventures as a peep hunter as well – like many of Westerfeld’s characters, he’s quite likable. I’m looking forward to the sequel, as the story is clearly ramping up to something big.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

Undead by Kirsty McKay

Undead by Kirsty McKay (unabridged audiobook read by Amy Shindler; 7.25 hrs on 6 discs): New girl Bobby is on a ski trip with her high school class to Scotland. Shortly after they stop at a cafe in the middle of nowhere, her classmates all turn into zombies. From there they all run for their lives, and it’s actually quite clever and funny. Bobby has typical teenage girl concerns without being obnoxious, the zombies are gross and scary without being gory, and the scenery changes more frequently than your average horror movie. The humor had me laughing out loud in places, and there were a couple moments of actual suspense. In short, I really enjoyed it, and now I want to read the sequel.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

People of Sparks by Jeanne DuPrau

The People of Sparks by Jeanne DuPrau (unabridged audiobook read by Wendy Dillon; 8 hrs on 7 discs): We begin not too long after City of Ember ended, with the Emberites having emerged from their underground home for the first time in many generations, and descending upon the first settlement they encounter: the village of Sparks. This tiny village cannot support these hundreds of refugees who have nothing to trade and no skills to take care of themselves, and tensions between the two groups steadily build. To be perfectly honest, I spent a good part of this book being angry at everybody. I know it’s supposed to be an allegory, but not a single person in Sparks showed any interest whatsoever in learning about Ember or its inhabitants. These people have been cut off from the rest of civilization for so long that they have never seen an animal and don’t even know what the moon is. I’d never stop asking them questions and answering theirs. Luckily, everything does eventually get resolved and I finished the story feeling more or less satisfied. I don’t think I’ll be continuing the series, however. From what I understand, the latter two books focus more on some mysterious prophecy (which is kind of annoying since part of the attraction of these books, for me, is their plausibility) and hardly feature Lina and Doon at all. This one ends in a good place, though, so I am happy to continue the story only in my imagination.

A note on the audio: Dillon was excellent once again. The sound effects in the background were much less intrusive this time around, and in fact added some ambiance to the fire scene.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare (unabridged audiobook read by Daniel Sharman; 15.5 hrs on 13 discs): And here we are at the end of the trilogy. I have thoughts and they are all disjointed, so, bottom line up front: I really enjoyed it. I found this trilogy to be far better, both in story and in mechanics, than The Mortal Instruments. The characters have far more depth, and thus are far more interesting to read about. However, I do still believe it was helpful to read The Mortal Instruments first because of how fun it was to see the origins of many things that pop up in that series.

I didn’t think I could love Magnus any more than I already did, but clearly my affection for him knows no bounds.

The revelation about Tessa’s talent was satisfying, as was the defeat of Mortmain and the truth behind Tessa’s clockwork angel. I felt the resolution of the Jem/Tessa/Will love triangle to be a little too convenient, however, despite how much I loved all three characters. Jem’s epilogue was generally unconvincing as well, but perhaps Clare has another book in store for these characters. I kind of hope so, actually, because I love this universe, though I like it better in Victorian times than modern day.

A note on the audio: Finally a good narrator! Why couldn’t they have Sharman narrate the other two books as well? Stupid stupid stupid.

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare (unabridged audiobook read by Ed Westwick and Heather Lind; 15.5 hrs on 13 discs): The story of Mortmain and his clockwork soldiers continues with the angst of Will. Amazingly, Will’s jerkface tendencies from the last book are actually explained realistically here, with a twist that did not surprise me but was still pleasing in how unusual it was. Will’s character in general is given a surprising amount of depth; that plus the secrets revealed and exciting battles and romantic shenanigans made this my favorite Shadow Hunter book so far (including all of Mortal Instruments, which really isn’t anywhere nearly as well-written as this). I’ll be curious to see how various issues are cleared up in the final book: the love triangles, the unrequited loves, the terminal illness, the villain’s mysterious motives, etc. All around a fun ride.

A note on the audio: While these narrators are a huge improvement over the one from the previous book, it’s disruptive to constantly be switching readers. I do not understand why anyone would have thought that was a good idea.

Otherworld Tales 2: Demon Invasion by C.T. Markee

Otherworld Tales 2: Demon Invasion by C.T. Markee: Irish and Streak are joined by Irish’s cousin Frost as they search for their friend Huff in the wilds of Mount Shasta. This is the second of the Otherworld Tales series, but reading the first one is not strictly necessary, as Irish and his friends don’t remember the events from that book anyway. There’s less Celtic mythology this time around but far more adventure as our heroes fight monsters and the elements. I liked the cranky dwarves (are there really any other kind?) and the snooty giants. There’s nothing especially unpredictable here – you know that Huff will eventually be rescued and evil will be vanquished – but I think this is a story that would be enjoyed by most children who like fantasy and adventure.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

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