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The Siren’s Song: Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs

Sometimes a book comes along that just makes you smile.

Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs is one of those books. Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs

Lily Sanderson has a secret, and it’s not that she has a huge crush on gorgeous swimming god Brody Bennett, who makes her heart beat flipper-fast. Unrequited love is hard enough when you’re a normal teenage girl, but when you’re half human, half mermaid like Lily, there’s no such thing as a simple crush.

Lily’s mermaid identity is a secret that can’t get out, since she’s not just any mermaid – she’s a Thalassinian princess. When Lily found out three years ago that her mother was actually a human, she finally realized why she didn’t feel quite at home in Thalassinia, and she’s been living on land and going to Seaview high school ever since, hoping to find where she truly belongs. Sure, land has its problems – like her obnoxious, biker boy neighbor Quince Fletcher – but it has that one major perk – Brody. The problem is, mermaids aren’t really the casual dating type – when they “bond,” it’s for life.

When Lily’s attempt to win Brody’s love leads to a tsunami-sized case of mistaken identity, she is in for a tidal wave of relationship drama, and she finds out, quick as a tailfin flick, that happily-ever-after never sails quite as smoothly as you planned.

I’ve had my eye on this book for about a year now since I first bought it for my Media Center. My girls at school check it out pretty frequently and I was always drawn to this pretty, colorful cover! Was it a siren song luring me to this book?!

Thanks to the generous people at the Harper Collins Audio department, I finally got the chance to read…er….listen to Forgive My Fins (THANK YOU SO MUCH!). This was my first mermaid book and what can I say? I absolutely LOVED this book; it’s light, quick and just plain fun. So, yeah I really enjoyed this whole mermaid thing. What little girl doesn’t pretend to be a mermaid when she’s little and in the pool? I did! I’d hook one of those pool rings around my ankles (which looking back probably wasn’t too safe) and swim around like I had one tailfin, instead of legs!

Lily is the kind of girl you’d like to have as your friend. She’s sweet, loyal, and quirky, if not a little oblivious. She is your average teenage girl in her insecurity and boy obsessiveness which makes her an appealing main character. Quince Fletcher reminds me of a little boy who relentlessly teases the girl he thinks is pretty because he doesn’t know how to tell her about his feelings. He throws balled-up paper at her and annoys Lily to no end, but you can tell right away that Quince is sweet and caring. Le sigh…I had a boy like that once upon a time. My Quince, was a boy named Willie in 5th grade who used to sharpen his pencil and then poke my shoulder or arm with it as he walked back to his desk. It took me years to realize he had a crush on me. But I digress…

Is Forgive My Fins predictable? Yes. Do I care? No way! The plot thickens when a case of mistaken identity leads to a rather crucial kiss. Childs packs the story in with hilariously corny and sweet mermaid-ish puns, which I enjoyed and think added to the whole feel of the story.

I did read this book as part of the 2012 YA Audiobook Challenge. Emily Bauer, the audiobook narrator, although not the same person, reminded me a lot of the narrator of the Gallagher Girl series, whom I love! Her voice was perky and cute, in the right ways, although I do wish her boy voices sounded a little older (they tended to sound younger).

So, in the end Forgive My Fins a light and enjoyable fast read that I highly recommend to middle grade readers and up who are in the mood for a quick and fun romance that just makes you smile.

Author: Tera Lynn Childs

Publisher: Harper Audio

Format: Audiobook

Length: 7 hours and 39 minutes

Narrator(s): Emily Bauer

Series: First in the Fins series.

YA/MG: YA/MG

Buy the Book: Forgive My Fins

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I Only Had Eyes For Nancy Drew: Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

Hi!

So, somewhere in elementary school I missed Hatchet by Gary Paulsen.  I know why.  I was engrossed in my Nancy Drew mysteries.  Seriously.  I read them all (and there are about 150 originals).  So, if it wasn’t a Nancy Drew book, I ignored it.  This is why I never read Hatchet by Gary PaulsenHatchet, until now.

Thirteen-year-old Brian Robeson is on his way to visit his father when the single-engine plane in which he is flying crashes. Suddenly, Brian finds himself alone in the Canadian wilderness with nothing but a tattered windbreker and the hatchet his mother gave him as a present — and the dreadful secret that has been tearing him apart since his parent’s divorce. But now Brian has no time for anger, self-pity, or despair — it will take all his know-how and determination, and more courage than he knew he possessed, to survive.

Of course Hatchet was awesome. It is a twentieth century classic. It’s a Newberry Award book! I finished it thinking, “Well that was just a darn good book”.

From the fist few sentences I was hooked.  Paulsen’s style of writing is so clean. By clean I mean uncluttered.  Paulsen only writes what is important and the reader doesn’t get bogged down with other information, because he only describes the important things. The whole time the reader is experiencing every thing right alongside Brian. From the pilot’s heart attack, to the plane crash, to the moose attack (Yes. That’s right.) I was right there beside him wondering, like Brian, if he’s going to survive on his own in the wilderness.  I was so involved in Brian’s story that I found myself feeling excited and joyous whenever he made a small victory, or holding my breath when he made a mistake. Talk about engrossing!

Another aspect about Hatchet that I liked was Brian’s memories and dreams. Throughout the story Brian is alone. All by himself. No one for miles. He is forced to deal with his thoughts and memories, especially those relating to the secret about his mother. Brian isn’t only trying to survive physically, but he is also trying to survive his parents’ divorce emotionally.  Both survival attempts mirror each other as the story unfolds.  Brian learns that self-pity doesn’t work.  In order to move beyond things, in a healthy way, is to face them head on – a lesson I can always use a reminder in!

Would I have enjoyed Hatchet as much if I’d read it when my classmates were reading it?  Probably not. (Nancy Drew I only had eyes for you!)  But I am so glad I finally took the time to read this modern-day classic.  Middle grade readers and older  who enjoy survival stories will probably love this book and anyone who hasn’t read Hatchet yet really should add it to their To Read List.  I highly recommend the audiobook because the narrator, Peter Coyote, did a wonderful job (plus it’s a super fast listen).

Author: Gary Paulsen

Publisher: Listening Library (April 27, 2004)

Format: Audiobook

Length: 3 hrs, 37 mins

Narrator(s): Peter Coyote

Series: First in the Brian’s Saga series.

YA/MG: MG

Buy the Book:  Hatchet By Gary Paulsen

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All Gobbled Up: The Death Cure by James Dashner

Howdy!

My husband I recently finished the third book in the Maze Runner Series, The Death Cure, by James Dashner!  We listened to the whole series on audiobook and absolutely loved them!

The Death Cure by James DashnerThomas knows that Wicked can’t be trusted, but they say the time for lies is over, that they’ve collected all they can from the Trials and now must rely on the Gladers, with full memories restored, to help them with their ultimate mission. It’s up to the Gladers to complete the blueprint for the cure to the Flare with a final voluntary test.

What Wicked doesn’t know is that something’s happened that no Trial or Variable could have foreseen. Thomas has remembered far more than they think. And he knows that he can’t believe a word of what Wicked says.

The time for lies is over. But the truth is more dangerous than Thomas could ever imagine.
Will anyone survive the Death Cure?

Like I mentioned above, I loved this series.  We seriously gobbled all three books up pretty quickly.  Dashner’s writing literally pulls you into the story and the setting so feel everything the characters are experiencing right along with them.  The characters in these books are some of my favorite in all of YA/MG fiction. Thomas, Min Ho, Brenda and Newt are so memorable that I felt lonely after we finally finished the series.  Newt, will forever be one of my favorite minor characters ever.

I do have to say that The Death Cure was not my favorite of the trilogy.  At times the plot felt a little loose and flappy like the characters were doing all this traveling around without a real purpose.  It kind of seemed to me like Dashner packed a little too much into this third book, but the story was still entertaining and it doesn’t diminish my love for these books!

I really liked the suspense scenes where Thomas and his group are walking through the city.  With Dashner you never know what is behind each corner so you’re tense the whole way through (in a good way!).  Like the first two books I still didn’t know who to trust which kept me on my toes!

The Death Cure has an ending that is surprisingly hopeful mixed with a dash of “YES! I knew it!” and I can’t wait to get my hands on the prequel novel The Kill Order which releases on August 14, 2012! It’s going to be really awesome to hear the “before the maze” story finally! I seriously hope Mark Deakins narrates that one too, because his narration on all three on the books in this series is just plain awesome.

So, i you’re looking for an awesome thrilling series, maybe even a Hunger Games read-alike, you should check out this series!  There is some violence but it’s nothing too gruesome, so I’d say these books can be read by middle grade readers and up.

Author: James Dashner

Publisher: Listening Library (October 11, 2011)

Format: Audiobook

Length: 8 hrs 55 mins

Narrator(s): Mark Deakins

Series: Third in The Maze Runner series

YA/MG: MG/YA

Buy the Book:  The Death Cure (Maze Runner Trilogy)

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Men in Black? The Dangerous Days of Daniel X by James Patterson

Happy summer everyone!

The Dangerous Days of Daniel X by James Patterson is the first Florida Sunshine State book (of fifteen) that I’ve finished so far this summer. I haven’t ready any of James Patterson’s adult fiction, but am familiar with his Maximum Ride series’s, so I was excited to dig into The Dangerous Days of Daniel X. Also, I listened to the audiobook as part of the 2012 YA Audiobook Challenge!The Dangerous Days of Daniel X by James Patterson

The greatest superpower of all isn’t to be part spider, part man, or to cast magic spells–the greatest power is the power to create. Daniel X has that power. Daniel’s secret abilities – like being able to manipulate objects and animals with his mind or to recreate himself in any shape he chooses – have helped him survive. But Daniel doesn’t have a normal life. He is the protector of the earth, the Alien Hunter, with a mission beyond anyone’s imagining.
From the day that his parents were brutally murdered before his very eyes, Daniel has used his unique gifts to hunt down their assassin. Finally, with the help of The List, bequeathed to him in his parents’ dying breath, he is closing in on the killer. Now, on his own, he vows to take on his father’s mission – and to take vengeance in the process.

So, I know for a fact my boys at school are going to love this book. It’s like a teenage Men in Black as Daniel is pretty much an alien hunter. This is a fun, quick read that will appeal to my reluctant readers because the chapters are super short. In fact they were so short and choppy that I had to check my iPod multiple times to ensure that the tracks weren’t out-of-order (sometimes the tracks aren’t titled correctly so they skip around in iTunes.).

Every single chapter is jam-packed full of action as Daniel X follows the trail of the aliens across the country. Now, like I said this is a fast paced sci-fi thriller that is a fun read. However, because it’s so action packed Patterson doesn’t leave enough room for actual substance. I didn’t really feel for Daniel’s plight (his pain from being orphaned at the hands of alien super power, The Prayer). I mean I knew he was attempting to avenge his parent’s murder, but there wasn’t much depth to Daniel’s character.

Despite any shortcoming The Dangerous Days of Daniel X had I still feel strongly that my students are really, really going to enjoy this sci-fi thriller! Patterson’s goal was to write a book for teen readers and I think he succeeded! So, if you’re a middle grade reader in the mood for a fast adventure read, check out this book!

Author: James Patterson

Publisher: Hachette Audio (July 21, 2008)

Format: Audiobook

Length: 4 hrs and 30 mins

Narrator(s): Milo Ventimiglia

Series: First in the Daniel X series

YA/MG: MG

Buy the Book: The Dangerous Days of Daniel X

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A Comeptetive Streak: The Selection by Kiera Cass

Well hello there!

Today I’m reviewing dystopian romance, The Selection by Kiera Cass.

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them The Selection by Kiera Casssince birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in the palace and compete for the heart of the gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secrett love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

I’ve wanted to read The Selection ever since I first saw the cover. Covers that have girls in pretty gowns is pretty much “a go” for me! This gown is stunning. I want it so bad!

I received the audiobook from the generous folks at Harper Audio (Harper Collins) – thank you! The Selection is Kiera Cass’ debut novel and it was a fun listen, though not without its flaws. I found the story pretty slow at first, but once America gets to the palace things start to pick up. After a few chapters of wondering if I’d get into this story, I suddenly found myself really wondering what would happen next and was anxious to get back to it! (This is why I listen to audiobooks while running people-it makes me want to run more just so I can listen!)

Cass is pretty creative in turning the premise of a The Bachelor type competition and weaving it into a dystopian setting. The Bachelor and Bachelorette TV shows have always intrigued me so I liked this as the means for which the monarchy chooses their next queen. This reminded me of one of my favorite books, The Princess Academy by Shannon Hale – they are different takes on this whole royal contest idea. I also love the fact that society is split up into different castes based on the type of work you do.

I also liked that we got an insider’s view of the whole story behind the pageantry. America is both likable yet frustrating at times. I like her down to earth nature and the fact that despite this humbleness she does get caught up in the contest and her new life in the palace, just as any girl would! She also finds her competitive streak although she originally hates the competition. She frustrates me a little because she contradicts herself a lot throughout the story. At times Cass’ dialog can be a little trite and some of the things America says don’t seem to fit her personality.

I listened to The Selection as part of the 2012 YA Audiobook Challenge and although I did think the story was entertaining I wasn’t a huge fan of the narrator. Her voice was pretty monotone and she didn’t change-up any voices for the different characters. Now, although I didn’t like the narrator, I still enjoyed the book as a whole, despite the flaws. I also think my students would absolutely love this book so I’ll definitely be adding it to our library catalog. The story ends pretty abruptly and I actually had to check my iPod to see if I missed some tracks, but I didn’t. Although I wasn’t satisfied with the ending, the story was still fun and I’ll definitely be looking for the sequels (its supposed to be a trilogy)! Sometimes it’s okay to just enjoy a book for the story and ignore any faults it may have. The Selection has such a fun story you can just sit back and enjoy!

Girls from middle grades to high school and up, who are always up for a book with some romance, will enjoy The Selection and seeing how America fares in the contest to be queen. Also, get excited (!) because it sounds like the CW is making a pilot for the The Selection series. To read more about this check out Kiera Cass’ website.

Author: Kiera Cass

Publisher: Harper Audio (April 24, 2012)

Format: Audiobook

Length: 8 hrs and 7 mins

Narrator(s): Amy Rubinate

Series: First in The Selection trilogy

YA/MG: YA

Buy the Book: The Selection (Selection – Trilogy)

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Action Packed With Action: Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Well hello there! Welcome back!

Today, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on Veronica Roth’s Insurgent, the sequel to the awesome Divergent (you can read my review here).  I read Divergent this past fall and have been anxiously awaiting the sequel ever since (like pretty much everyone else!).  It was one of my most anticipated books of 2012 for sure!

One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Insurgent by Veronica RothTris’s initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

Let me say, that sequels can, unfortunately, sometimes be disappointing.  However, its rare that I’m completely turned off by the series because of a lack luster sequel.  If I love the story and characters enough I’ll usually stick around until the end of the series.  Long story short, I was hoping for the best and was not disappointed.

One of the things I loved about Divergent was that the story was so fast paced and exciting the whole way through I didn’t want to put it down. It was the same thing with Insurgent- it’s so action packed with…action!! From the get-go, the story is moving and it doesn’t slow down at all.  Actually, Roth does almost no re-capping of the story, and this book runs from the start so quickly that I thought I had missed something.  If you need a refresher on the main plot points in the first book before jumping into the second, check out Roth’s recap here.

Speaking of traveling to the other faction headquarters, I really loved how Roth expands Tris’ world and lets us see more and learn more about each faction.  I enjoyed the descriptions of each faction headquarters because you could really see the values of each group displayed in their day-to-day life and culture.  For example I love the way in which the Amity faction embraces nature and its’ beauty, and how that is emphasized in their use of natural wood in their architecture, whereas the academic Erudite’s headquarters is known for its sterile design.  I think getting to learn more about the different factions, was one of my favorite parts about Insurgent.

What about Tris?  Well, I actually felt mild annoyance toward her at times, although I love her dearly as one of my favorite YA heroines.  Maybe that was intended, but I couldn’t help but be frustrated by her sometimes irrational behavior and that fact that she wouldn’t share her thoughts and feelings with Four.  In Tris’ defense the immense guilt she feels for actions she took at the end of the first book, so this does explain her irrational behavior and her hesitance to talk to Four.  Throughout the entirety of the story, Tris is struggling to accept the consequences of her actions and to move beyond the guilt and pain.    Because of Tris’ actions and behavior, though,  there is some tension between Tris and Four, especially towards the end (which I won’t spoil, don’t worry!).

I listened to the Insurgent audiobook, thanks to the wonderful people at Harper Audio (Harper Collins THANK YOU!) and I really, really enjoyed it.  The narrator, Emma Galvin who also read Divergent, did a fabulous job again.  She is consistent with voices from start to finish, which is super important to me!  This audiobook counts toward my 2012 YA Audiobook Challenge.  I think that makes number thirteen.  Which actually means I’ll be aiming for the challenge’s  Head Bang’n level in which I have to listen  to 36+ audiobooks, and review at least 24 of them.  I got this.

Overall, dystopian fans and those who loved the first book will find Insurgent a riveting sequel.  Like Divergent, Insurgent is intended for the older teen readers.  Also, there is some violence, so if you’re squeamish, this series might not be your cup of tea.  But you should really give it a try because I think you’ll be impressed with Roth’s creativity and this series’ (and it’s heroine’s) awesomeness!

Author: Veronica Roth

Publisher: Harper Audio (May 1, 2012)

Format: Audiobook

Length: 11 hrs 22 mins.

Narrator(s): Emma Galvin

Series: Second in The Divergent series

YA/MG: YA

Buy the Book: Insurgent (Divergent)

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Who Can You Trust? The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

Hola and welcome back!

Today’s review is for The Scorch Trials by James Dashner. This is the second book in the series and I think I may have liked it better than the first. You can read my review of the The Maze Runner here.

Solving the Maze was supposed to be the end. No more puzzles. No more variables. And no more running. Thomas was sure that escape meant he and the Gladers would get their lives back. But no one really knew what sort of life they were going back to. In the Maze, life was easy. They had food, and shelter, and safety . . . until Teresa triggered the end. In the world outside the Maze, however, the end was triggered long ago.

The Scorch Trials by James DashnerBurned by sun flares and baked by a new, brutal climate, the earth is a wasteland. Government has disintegrated—and with it, order—and now Cranks, people covered in festering wounds and driven to murderous insanity by the infectious disease known as the Flare, roam the crumbling cities hunting for their next victim . . . and meal. The Gladers are far from finished with running. Instead of freedom, they find themselves faced with another trial. They must cross the Scorch, the most burned-out section of the world, and arrive at a safe haven in two weeks. And WICKED has made sure to adjust the variables and stack the odds against them.

James Dashner is amazing at giving his readers just enough detail to get you on the edge of your seat, but knows when too much would be too much. This book is so much creepier than the first. The danger is palpable and the action is constant.

The Scorch Trials picked up right where The Maze Runner left off with Thomas and the others learning that WICKED has more in store for them than originally thought. This is what is so creepy to me about this book is that there is so many mind tricks going on, that you are left without any sense of trust. Dashner had me going back and forth thinking I knew what was going on so many times, but in an exciting, not annoying way! Seriously though, there were so many twists and turns you have no idea who to trust.

My husband and I listened to the audiobook of The Scorch Trials together. We both love the story and characters so much and we’re so glad the narration, done by Mark Deakins is really good too. His voices and accents for all the characters, and there are many, are consistent throughout the whole book. That’s super important for me, for the accents to be consistent.

If you’re into post-apocalyptic thrillers, or you’ve already read and enjoyed The Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials comes highly recommended by me!

Author: James Dashner

Publisher: Listening Library, (October 26, 2010)

Format: Audiobook

Length: 10 hrs and 22 mins

Narrator(s): Mark Deakins

Series: Second in The Maze Runner Trilogy

YA/MG: YA

Buy the Book: The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner Trilogy)

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Getting His Start: Death Cloud by Andrew Lane

It is time for another book review!

This one is an audiobook and I listened to it as part of the 2012 YA Audiobook Challenge  Death Cloud by Andrew Lane.  Death Cloud, is actually the first book in the Young Sherlock Holmes series detailing where and how the famous British detective got his start.  Also, I received this review copy of the audiobook from the super nice people at MacMillan Audio- thank you!

Death Cloud by Andrew LaneThe year is 1868, and Sherlock Holmes is fourteen. His life is that of a perfectly ordinary army officer’s son: boarding school, good manners, a classical education – the backbone of the British Empire. But all that is about to change. With his father suddenly posted to India, and his mother mysteriously ‘unwell’, Sherlock is sent to stay with his eccentric uncle and aunt in their vast house in Hampshire. So begins a summer that leads Sherlock to uncover his first murder, a kidnap, corruption and a brilliantly sinister villain of exquisitely malign intent . . .

Okay. So I have to be completely honest here; I haven’t read any of the original Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,  but I have always been intrigued by the character and I do own a copy of them all.  So, I’m not a complete classic fiction failure right?!

Can we also talk about the idea of looking at classic fictional characters as teenagers?! How fun is that?!   Let’s get working on a teenage Elizabeth Bennett or a young Hercule Poirot!  I would seriously read them! This is why I was drawn to Death Cloud when I first saw it- come on a teenage Sherlock Holmes?  YES!

Lane creates a cool collected, level-headed, although sometimes incredibly stubborn teenage boy who has all the reasoning skills, without the knowledge (enter is new American tutor).  What I found really interesting about Lane’s portrayal of Sherlock is that he is kind of a social outcast in school.  He knows the other students and sits among them in classes, but doesn’t really have any friends. In fact, Sherlock has never really had any friends growing up, and because of it he is a bit socially awkward at times.   This is incredibly interesting as one would think that those who grow up privileged in an area where you are the wealthiest family, one might not be allowed to know the other children.  But there also seems to be the fact that Sherlock’s precociousness seems to put him on a different plane than the other boys in his school.

My boys at school are usually not into historical fiction (although some of my girls are) so I’ve been debating whether or not to add Death Cloud to my Media Center catalog or not.   My students just don’t have much interest in historical fiction (arrgghh the truth hurts my historical fiction loving heart!)  That being said  this story is pretty action packed, especially once Sherlock and the mystery get underway, so I think I’m going to give it a try and talk it up to some of my boys who enjoy the Alex Rider books, because there are definitely similarities between the two.

Overall, I really enjoyed the audiobook narrator, Daniel Weyman, who apparently mostly does theater work. His voices and accents were consistent the whole way through, although his American accent was slightly humorous to me because it was such a stereotypical southern accent.  I guess that’s how we sound to everyone else! haha

I really enjoyed this book and if you are a Sherlock Holmes fan or a fan of historical fiction you’ll probably have fun with it too!  It is intended for readers 12 and up, so I’d say that anyone who likes a good mystery would appreciate Death Cloud.

Author: Andrew Lane

Publisher: MacMillan Audio (February 1, 2011)

Format: Audiobook

Length: 7 hours and 17 minutes

Narrator(s): Daniel Weyman

Series: Book 1 in the Young Sherlock Homes series

YA/MG: MG

Buy the Book: Death Cloud (Sherlock Holmes: The Legend Begins)

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It’s a Beautiful World: Fire by Kristin Cashore

Hello everyone!

Today’s review is for Fire by Kristin Cashore and I read Fire as a part of the 2012 Young Adult Audiobook Challenge.

Fire by Kristin CashoreIt is not a peaceful time in the Dells. In King City, the young King Nash is clinging to the throne, while rebel lords in the north and south build armies to unseat him. War is coming. And the mountains and forest are filled with spies and thieves. This is where Fire lives, a girl whose beauty is impossibly irresistible and who can control the minds of everyone around her.

Exquisitely romantic, this companion to the highly praised Graceling has an entirely new cast of characters, save for one person who plays a pivotal role in both books.

Fire is the second book in the Graceling Realms series and is the companion novel to Cashore’s first book, Graceling. Cashore amazes me.  When I first got Graceling (over a year ago) from the public library I thought “I don’t think I’m going to like this”, but once I started it I was entranced!  Fire was the exact same way.  Cashore weaves an incredible story and creates such a beautiful world filled with heart wrenching characters.

Fire, the main character, is a monster and thus possesses unmatched beauty and the ability to control the minds of those who are near.  Fire is an incredibly human character. She is so strong and courageous and willing to do what is necessary to save her beloved Dells.  However, in contrast, Fire is also deeply guilt ridden and full of self loathing.  She is ashamed of her unnatural beauty and powers and believes that she is something that must be controlled and contained.  She is haunted by the legacy of her father and strives to separate herself from his memory.   All of this leads to a very confused and conflicted young woman who is vulnerable at heart.   I thought I loved Katsa, from Graceling, but I think that Fire has out-shown her in my mind!

The other character that really stands out to me is Immiker, who the reader meets in the book’s prologue  is so incredibly creepy and evil!   This character’s intensity and scariness was only amplified by the narrator, Xanthe Elbrick, who’s voice for Immiker was so fighting that I actually wished for limited exposure to this character (it’s a major compliment; because her voice for him totally freaked me out!!)

I will say that Fire, like Graceling, is definitely a purely Young Adult novel.  I say this because of some sexual content, which although not overly descriptive or frequent, is still, in my opinion, more appropriate for high schoolers rather than middle schoolers. However, readers high school and over will be mesmerized by Cashore’s writing and will leave the book loving Fire, as much as the people of the Dells do.

Author: Kristin Cashore

Publisher: Penguin Audiobooks (October 5, 2009)

Format: Audiobook

Length: 12 hours, 40 mins.

Narrator(s): Xanthe Elbrick

Series: Second in the Graceling Realms series (a companion novel to Graceling)

YA/MG: YA

Buy the Book: Fire (Graceling)