Friday, June 29, 2012

Audiobook Week Discussion: Listen Up!

Audiobook Week is hosted by Jen at Devourer of Books.

Where do you learn about great audiobook titles? Find reviews? Buy your audiobooks? Share your secrets with the rest of us!

Being a librarian I check a lot of the trade journals for audiobooks, VOYA, School Library Journal, Book List, Kirkus.  I also look at AudioFile, and one of my favorite sources is Audio Jukebox

In some ways it is harder for me to find good reviews for audiobooks because I listen to primarily teen books.  I can find adult book reviews easily, but finding those teen reviews can be a bit of a challenge.  That is why I really appreciate what Audio Jukebox does--they collect reviews from bloggers all over, and books are indexed by title and author--making it easy to look up books I am thinking about adding to my "to listen" pile.  I follow a lot of blogs--bloggers are some of the best reviewers out there, and the blogs I follow will often review teen lit.  One great blog source is Reading Teen.  Finally, I also get weekly updates from Any New Books via email--they let me know what has come out for teens each week as well as audiobooks you can choose the categories that interest you, but I always get the audiobooks and the teens in my weekly updates.

In many cases I take a shot in the dark.  If the story sounds good, I'll give it a listen, and I have found many gems this way.  While audio production, narration, etc... are important to me, the story being told is even more important.  If it is a story I want to read, I will check out the audio and give it a try despite lack of reviews.  Sometimes I am pleasantly surprised, and sometimes I end up reading the paper version of the book.  

I don't buy a lot of audiobooks personally.  I prefer to get them from my library because they are so expensive.  I have purchased a couple of books from audible, and have enjoyed those, but that tends to be the exception to the rule.  My library gets audiobooks in Playaway, CD, and Downloadble forms--our adult collection even has MP3s.  So I have a lot to choose from at our library.  Our library primarily purchases their audio from Playaway, Recorded Books, Listening Library, or Baker and Taylor, and Overdrive for the downloadble audio.  We have other sources, but those are the ones we rely on.  

So how about you?  Where do you hear about good audiobooks and where do you buy your audiobooks?

Audio Book Review: That Summer by Sarah Dessen

Title: That Summer
Author: Sarah Dessen
Genre: Teen Fiction, Realistic Fiction
Publication Date: April 6, 2006 (originally published in 1996)
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
ISBN-13 Book: 9780670061105
Audiobook Publisher:  Random House/Listening Library
Length:  4 hours and 39 minutes
Disclosure: I purchased a copy of the book from BAM and checked out a copy of the audiobook from my public library.  This is my honest review!

That SummerThat Summer by Sarah Dessen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It seems like everything in fifteen year old Haven's life is suddenly changing this summer.  First her father divorces her mother and marries another woman, and at the end of the summer her sister is marrying and leaving her alone with a mother.  Haven just wishes thing could go back to the way they were the summer when her sister dated a boy named Sumner.  When Sumner reappears in Haven's life, his appearance reminds her of the good times of that summer so long ago. 

I have read several of Sarah Dessen's books and I love how she can get into the mind of a teenager.  Her realistic fiction is probably some of the best in YA fiction and I have enjoyed everything she writes.  Unfortunately, of all the titles I have read by her, I would have to say this is my least favorite.

First let me start off by saying that some of the characterizations in this novel are very well done.  The main characters feel real, and Haven's reactions are very believable for a teenager.  She has so many changes going on in her life, and her reactions to these changes are believable.  At other times however, she seemed too mature for her age. It was an interesting dichotomy sometimes spot on, and other times too wise for her years.  Other characters like Lorna and Haven's father came across rather flat. 

The plot of the story, a teen adapting to changes in her life, was realistically done, but I felt the story ended rather abruptly.  I was hoping for more resolution.

Audiobook Review:
The audiobook is produced by Random House/Listening Library and is narrated by Mia Barron.  The production is unabridged and relatively short.  At 4 hours and 39 minutes this is a great book for those that don't want a longer production.  My only comment is that sometimes the narrator sounded to old for Haven's age.  This could have been either the reader or the dialogue.  The production is free of flaws and was entertaining despite the minor flaws.

This was an enjoyable audiobook and a book despite its flaws.  I still love Sarah Dessen's book and just wish there had been more to this one.  It is enjoyable and entertaining, but not one of Dessen's best works.  To this day my favorite is still The Truth About Forever.

View all my reviews

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Audiobook Week Discussion: What Makes a Good Narrator?

Audiobook Week is hosted by Jen at Devourer of Books.

This is probably a pretty subjective topic. I have known people who adore a reader that I can't stand listening to, and I know some who have hated a reader I adore. This hit home most recently when a friend of mine and her sister didn't enjoy Jim Dale's reading of The Night Circus. They said they had difficulty understanding him with his British accent. I adore Jim Dale, so this came as quite a shock to me. I always thought his narrations were clear, and very understandable, but to each his own.

What I look for in a good narrator are three things, intonation, clarity, and age of the narrator.

First, I want the narrator to have good intonation. They need to produce the sounds in a manner that is acceptable to the book. On occasion you will come across a reader who will be monotone, or in one instance I listened to a reader who sounded like he was reading a bedtime story. Since I often drive when I listen, I don't need a narrator who is going to put me to sleep.

The second thing I look for is clarity. Does the narrator speak clearly. It is difficult to listen to a narrator you can't understand. Therefore clarity is necessary for a good narrator.

The third thing I look for may have some of you scratching your heads, but believe me it is an important factor when you listen primarily to young adult audiobooks. If you get a narrator that can't adequately voice a teenager, you can have a hard time getting into the story. I'll admit sounding like a teen isn't the easiest thing to do--many narrators come across either to old or in one unusual case too young.

So those are three things I look for in a narrator. What do you look for?

Audio Book Review: Past Midnight by Mara Purnhagen

Title: Past Midnight
Author: Mara Purnhagen
Genre: Teen Fiction, Paranormal Fiction
Publication Date: September 1, 2010
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
ISBN-13 Book: 9780373210206
Audiobook Publisher:  Audible Audio Edition / ICM
Length:  6 hours and 27 minutes
Disclosure: I purchased a copy of the audiobook from Audible and checked out a copy of the book from my public library.  This is my honest review!

Past Midnight (Past Midnight, #1)Past Midnight by Mara Purnhagen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Charlotte Silver just wants to be an ordinary teen, something that is impossible when her parents are paranormal investigators. They don’t believe in ghosts, they believe it is their job to investigate rogue energy patterns that many people “mistake” for ghosts. When their latest investigation in Charlotte, NC causes some “rogue energy patterns” to follow Charlotte home, Charlotte discovers even at her new school, being normal is going to be impossible when you’re being haunted. Charlotte wants to get rid of her ghostly stalkers before things become too hot to handle, but when her friends at school are hiding a secret to rival her own, she may have to decide which is more important, helping her friends or helping herself. The clock is ticking, and Charlotte doesn’t have much time left.

I love a good old fashioned ghost story, and this is just that. It had the right amount of creepiness that kept me wanting more.

The characters in this novel are well developed. Charlotte is a likable teen who just wants to live an ordinary life for a while. She has spent her entire childhood moving from place to place while her parents recorded and produced ghost documentaries. When her older sister Annalise demands that their parents give Charlotte an ordinary school year, Charlotte is more than happy to leave her ghost hunting days behind and be an ordinary high school student. When she meets Avery, a popular cheerleader, she believes she has the chance. Avery, however, has an even bigger secret than Charlotte. I love Avery and her little dog. She is sincere, but she is complicated. It was fun to watch Charlotte try to adapt to this new concept of friendship with Avery.

I loved Charlotte’s family, especially her sister Annalise. Her parents are present in the novel and you can tell they care, although sometimes her father gets a bit carried away with his career as a ghost hunter. They hadn’t realized what their professions were doing to their girls, but when it is brought to their attention, they try to make changes and we can forgive them if they don’t change overnight. You see in the end that they have Charlotte’s best interests in heart, and they will do anything to protect their daughter.

The plotting and pacing was perfect. This novel moves quickly so you don’t get bored or bogged down with details. This is an ideal summer read—one you can pick up and enjoy anytime.

Audiobook Review:
The audiobook version of this novel is exceptional. It is narrated by Tara Sands, who does a wonderful job with Charlotte’s voice as well as the other characters. I have listened to Sands narrate other novels, and found that she does a remarkable job with narration—you can’t go wrong here. The production is free of flaws and is short, so you could listen in one afternoon like I did, or spread it out if you like. The length of this novel is 6 hours and 27 minutes, but that time seemed to fly by as I listened to this great production. I actually purchased this one from audible, and I am relatively new to books from audible, but I wouldn’t hesitate to get the next one in the series from audible if it is as good as this one. I have to admit I was disappointed to see that Sands doesn’t narrate the next novel.

This was an enjoyable book and I look forward to reading the next in the series. Audio is a good way to go if you don’t have time to sit down and read it, or if that is your preferred method of reading. The narration is great, and the story is a fun one to listen to.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Audiobook Week Discussion: Mid-week Audiobook Week Meme

Audiobook Week is hosted by Jen at Devourer of Books.

Current/most recent audiobook:

That Summer by Sarah Dessen read by Mia Barron produced by Random House/Listening Library


Sarah Dessen is probably one of my favorite YA realistic fiction authors.  She is so good with her characters, and making them seem and feel real.  The audiobook production seems well done, though the narrator sounds a little too old to be the main character, but that could also be a result of the mature dialogue too.

Current/most recent favorite audiobook:

My most recent favorite audiobook is The Help.  I love the narrators and really loved the story.  It would have to be one of my favorite books this year. 

Favorite narrator you’ve discovered recently:

Octavia Spencer--I just loved her on The Help audiobook, and was thrilled to see her in the movie.  She was the perfect Minnie--intonation and attitude was just perfect!

One title from your TBL (to be listened) stack, or your audio wishlist:

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman is next on my "to listen" list.  It is read by Jenna Lamia who was one of the narrators on The Help and Secret Life of Bees which are two of my all time favorite books.  I can't wait to get this one started.

Your audio dream team (what book or author would you LOVE to see paired with a certain narrator, can already exist or not):

Oooh, I don't know.  I will admit right here to being a Trekkie, and I do love to hear Patrick Stewart speak--so I think I would really enjoy listening to him read something historical.  I have heard him narrate before and really enjoyed it, so I think he would be a good pick. 

Audio Book Review: Jersey Angel by Beth Ann Bauman

Title: Jersey Angel
Author: Beth Ann Bauman
Genre: Teen Fiction, General Fiction
Publication Date: May 8, 2012
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
ISBN-13 Book: 9780385740203
Audiobook Publisher:  Random House/Listening Library
Audiobook ISBN-13:  9780307968883
Length:  4 CDs (approximately 4 hours 12 minutes)
Disclosure: I checked out a copy of this book and the audio from my public library.  This is my honest review!

Jersey AngelJersey Angel by Beth Ann Bauman

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

It is the summer before her senior year and seventeen year-old Angel is looking to have a good time.  When her ex-boyfriend isn't interested in her anymore because she keeps tossing him aside, Angel looks for adventure elsewhere.  When she gets too close to her best friend Inggy's boyfriend, Angel discovers that secrets follow you everywhere, and that sometimes you have to discover for yourself what is really important.

Before I go any further, you have to know that this isn't my usual type of book.  In fact it is so far out of my comfort zone, that reading it probably wasn't a good idea.  Still diversifying my reading is necessary at times because I need to be familiar with different types of literature.  That being said, this book really wasn't for me.

While I found Bauman's writing style engaging and very well done, I had more trouble with the characters and the topic.  The character's seemed so superficial, and Angel who was supposed to be so nice--really wasn't.  I guess niceness is in the eye of the beholder, but seriously, she gets involved with her best friends's boyfriend, and doesn't even seem terribly guilty about it.  I didn't find her likable, and it is hard for me to read a book where I find the main character unlikable. 

The other thing that admittedly bothered me was the sex in the novel.  I don't mind sex in a teen novel--it happens, but in this case I felt that perhaps it was a little too explicit.  Frequency aside, I could have done with a little less detail since this was a teen novel.  I will give the author kudos for letting her character enjoy sex, but I wish it wasn't so explicit in this teen novel.

Due to the content of this novel, I would recommend it for a mature teen audience.  There is a lot of sex, profanity, and even some drinking in this novel.

Audiobook Review:
The audio production of this novel is very well done.  It is produced by Random House Listening Library and consists of 4 CDs (approximately 4 hours 12 minutes).  It is read by Jaclyn Gaines who does an excellent job narrating this title and includes a bit of the Jersey accent which adds charm.  With its short length it is a good book for those looking for a quick read, but due to content you may want to leave this one behind when you go on a family vacation. 

Every now and then we come across a book that just isn't for us. This book wasn't for me and I know it. It didn't have the depth or meat to it that I like a realistic fiction book to have, but just because I didn't like doesn't mean someone else won't love it. Give it a try if it sounds like your thing.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Audiobook Week Discussion: So You Want to Review Audiobooks…

Audiobook Week is hosted by Jen at Devourer of Books.

I didn't start out specifically wanting to review audiobooks, I just started out reviewing books, and it just so happened that some of those happened to be audiobook.  Over time, I began to think more about the audiobook reviews, and in the last year I have actually started labeling those reviews specifically as audiobook reviews rather than just book reviews.

When I review audiobooks, the story is still my primary focus.  Was the book well written, and did I enjoy it.  After that I begin to look at the nuances that make the audiobooks special, narrator, production quality, suitability of material, and anything else that I notice about the recording.

Probably the most important aspect to me about an audiobook is the narrator.  A narrator can make or break an audiobook for me.  There have been times when I have just stopped listening because I couldn't handle the narration.  One read the story as if he were reading a bedtime story.  Since I primarily listen while driving this isn't a good thing.  I want a narrator to relate the story in a way I can enjoy and in a way that doesn't put me to sleep.  Also, sometimes it is a stretch for narrators to do voices of the opposite sex.  You get high falsettos and guys that sound rather girlish from time to time, which can come off as distracting.  A good narrator can do those voices without making them sound funny. One other thing that influences my opinions on narrators is how old they sound.  I read a lot of teen books, and on occasions you get narrators that don't sound convincingly teenaged--sometimes too old, and sometimes too young.     

Production quality is where I look for any obvious flaws.  Did a book have finish one chapter, start in the middle of the next chapter, then go back to the beginning of that same chapter?  Yes, that one has happened to me, and as a librarian it was very frustrating because every patron who checked it out reported to me that disc 4 of the set was damaged.  It wasn't actually damaged, it was a production flaw that the producer failed to fix.  For the most part, these are trivial and something that can sometimes be overlooked if the rest of the audiobook is good.  Sometimes they are huge and can effect the enjoyment of the book.

Suitability of the material can be a bit subjective, but there are books that are just simply better suited to audio.  My favorite audiobook, Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why is one of those that just seems made for audio, and the way the producers did it with two narrators, made the novel seem so real.  On the other hand, sometimes there are books with illustrations, lists, or other misc. material that you need the physical book to get the full effect.  Two of these that come time mind are Westerfeld's Leviathan with its impressive artwork which can help you visualize the ships, and Matson's Amy and Roger's Epic Detour which had playlists, that just don't come across the same when read aloud.  Both these books were good audio, but you lost part of the experience by listening to the material and believe me listening to a narrator read lists can be a bit annoying at times. 

There are many things that I like or dislike about audiobooks, and every day I learn more.  In the end it all comes down to what you like, and what you feel your experience was with that book.  

What is important to you when you listen to an audiobook?

Audio Book Review: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Title: City of Bones
Author: Cassandra Clare
Genre: Teen Fiction, Paranormal Fiction, Adventure Fiction
Publication Date: March 27, 2007
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
ISBN-13 Book: 9781416914280
Audiobook Publisher:  Simon & Schuster Audio
Audiobook ISBN-13:  9780743566575
Length:  12 CDs (approximately 14 hours)
Disclosure: I purchased a copy of the book for my personal collection and checked out a copy of the audio from my local library. This is my honest review!

City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1)City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Clary Fray goes to the Pandemonium Club with her best friend Simon, never expecting to witness a crime, but when she notices two young men following another young man into a closet at the club she can’t help but follow.  There she witnesses the death of her first demon, and discovers that she has the ability to see through glamour.  When her mother suddenly disappears, and she is violently attacked at her apartment, Clary begins to discover her mother has been keeping a number of secrets, secrets that could get Clary killed.  Filled with demons, action, mystery, and a touch of romance, City of Bones will keep you on the edge of your seat.

This is another of those books that I probably should have read a long time ago.  I have heard they were good, but I just never had time to pick them up.  One of my coworkers even recommended that I read them, and still I hesitated.  I’ll admit it is hard for me to start a series when it has been out for a while.  I still haven’t picked up Vampire Academy though everyone tells me I need too.  Sometimes you get so swept away in what is coming out that you miss those older titles and sadly never get around to them. 

While I really did enjoy this book, I found some parts of the novel extremely predictable.  That doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy reading it, but the whole confrontation with the villain at the end was kind of cliché to me—been there done that.  Evil guy, wanting power, controlling hero, etc…  Not much original territory.

I did like the characters, Clary was well portrayed and likable enough.  At times she was a bit slow to comprehend what was going on, but I can forgive her for that—she was dealing with new circumstances.  She was completely blind to Simon’s feelings, but that happens in real life too sometimes.  Jace was the typical antisocial, sarcastic hero.  He was always quick with a comeback or snarky comment, but that was merely a façade to hide behind.  Simon, is the good guy best friend who the heroine loves, but not in the way that he would like.  I would have liked to spend more time with both Alec and Isabell, because I think they could both be interesting characters rather than just sidekicks.  And Hodge, let me just say—I saw that coming a mile away. 

The story is action packed and will definitely draw readers in, keeping them hooked until the very last page.  There is so much we have yet to learn about this shadow hunter world, and Clary is still ignorant of so much. 

Audiobook Review:
The audio book was produced by Simon & Schuster Audio and is free of flaws or disturbances.  Ari Graynor reads the novel and does a reasonable job on most voices, but has a little difficulty with the deeper older voices—they sound a bit off.  This is common when female narrators have to capture deep male voices.  Otherwise the performance is extremely enjoyable, and a good way to experience the novel.  This is a long one though.  I consists of 12 CDs which equals roughly 14 hours of listening.  A great pick for a long trip.

Overall, this book was very enjoyable.  If you are looking for something original, you might want to look somewhere else, but if you don’t mind a familiar storyline, you will find a lot to enjoy in this novel.

View all my reviews

Monday, June 25, 2012

Audiobook Week Discussion: 2011-2012, My Audiobook Year

First a big THANK YOU to Jen at Devourer of Books for hosting Audiobook Week 2012.  I look forward to this every year!

I adore audiobooks, and this year they have been the only thing to really keep me reading. As many of you know we lost both of my husband's grandmothers in the same week of January. It was a shock to all of us, and with so many things up in the air for so long, I just lost all my enthusiasm for reading. For the longest time I didn't even want to pick up a book, but through out this time, I was still listening.

I always have an audiobook playing in my car no matter where I go. I adore audio, and can't even stand to listen to the radio anymore. If it hadn't been for the audio this past winter and spring, I would probably have read nothing. Eventually, it was the audio that drew me out of my slump, and reminded me how much I really enjoy reading.

This year I am trying audible--I haven't gotten a subscription yet, but I have ordered a couple of books. So far, I have found the experience enjoyable with both of the books I have tried. I just listened to one on my iPad this past weekend, and loved it.

Audiobooks will continue to be a staple in my reading diet. I can't go anywhere without listening to one in my car, but now I have discovered that listening on my iPod and iPad are possible too. (I got a lot of laundry done while listening to that audiobook yesterday.)

Here are some of my favorite audiobooks from the past year:

Love in a Nutshell

I love Janet Evanovich books and hers are some of the best listening experiences. Lorelei King reads this one as she does many of Evanovich's novels, and it was just a fun lighthearted read.

The Fault in Our Stars
This book's witty banter was perfect for the audio listener. John Green has such smart and savvy dialogue that it is a pleasure to listen to this novel.

 The Help
Octavia Spencer--do I need to say more? This production was brilliant, and very enjoyable.

Some books are difficult ones to read. You pick them up and put them down, and sometimes you need an extra push to get through them. Audio makes me read long after I would have set the physical book down. In this case, the audio leg me experience a phenomenal story that I doubt I would have finished without the audio. It was a brilliant novel and one I am really glad I got to experience.

What were your favorite books to listen to this year?

Audiobook Review: The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

Title: The Future of Us
Author: Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
Genre: Teen Fiction, General Fiction
Publication Date: November 21, 2011
Publisher: Razorbill
ISBN-13 Book: 9781595144911
Audiobook Publisher:  Penguin Audio
Audiobook ISBN-13:  9781611760316
Length:  6 CDs (approximately 7 hours)
Disclosure: I received a copy of the book for consideration for committee work and checked out the audiobook from my public library.  This is my honest review!

The Future of UsThe Future of Us by Jay Asher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It is 1996 and Emma Nelson has just received a computer from her father.  When her friend Josh gives her an AOL CD-ROM she is setting up and email account and ready to explore the internet.  Then she notices something unusual when she logs on, a program she has never heard of before called FACEBOOK, a program that hasn’t been invented yet, that shows her snippets of her life from 15 years in the future.  They can see everything, schools, careers, and spouses, and every time they log on or refresh, they can see the changes small decisions they made during the day make on their future selves.  But what happens when you really don’t like the future you see in front of you?

This book was like a trip down memory lane.  I am going to date myself here and say that I graduated high school in 1996, so this was like stepping back into the past for me.  I remember AOL, I remember the first cell phones, and I remember what it was like being a teen in the year 1996. 

I couldn’t help but think of living through those years as I read the book, but I also couldn’t help but wonder what the teens today would think of this book.  To me, this was my life, but to them it is history.  I can imagine the raised eyebrows at the cell phones of the day, and AOL itself, not to mention life without Facebook. 

The inside knowledge was great, knowing what was going to happen in the years between 1996 and Facebook 15 years later, was a lot of fun for me.  We know about the radical changes that occurred, but Emma and Josh don’t have any idea.  Today’s teens will understand and get a kick out of some of the assumptions Josh and Emma make about the future based on their status updates.

This was a real “what if” novel.  What if we could see our future Facebook updates?  It was fun watching the teens explore their futures, and do what they could to change or make them happen. 
The characters are well drawn and act like real teens.  Emma’s behavior, and her willingness to change her future just because of a one sentence status update really frustrated me.  How much can you really tell about your life from your status updates on Facebook?  Josh was the more reasonable one, and recongnizes the danger in playing with the future, but he too needs to learn what he really wants.

The story is a bit predictable (okay pardon the pun here), but it is still satisfying and a story that I enjoyed on many different levels. 

Audiobook Review:
The audiobook was produced by Penguin Audio and ready by Steven Kaplan and Mary Ellen Cravens.  I really liked the use of two narrators with this novel.  Both narrators do a superb job reading the novel and make it easy to distinguish between the two characters.  The production is clean and free of flaws, and at 6 CDs the length is definitely manageable.  Overall a really enjoyable way to experience the novel. 

This was an enjoyable read, that included a flashback into my own past, but will still hold relevance for today’s teens.  A great novel by two wonderful YA authors.  Definitely recommended!

View all my reviews

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Thursday Thoughts: Hating a Book Everyone Loved

This is the flip side of last week's Thursday Thoughts where you loved a book everyone around you hated.  (I'm still getting criticism on my book pick--YIKES!)  Anyway, it happens, we read reviews, and hear great things about a book from all over the blog-o-sphere, and we can't wait to get our hands on that wonderful book.  We crack open the pages, eagerly start reading, and as we go, our excitement fades.  Sound familiar?

We have all been there--disappointed by the hype.  I see so many reviews every day from professionals and bloggers alike, touting the merits of so many books and every day my too read list gets longer.  (Yeah--I really should stop reading those reviews. :) ) Still, I get my hopes up, hoping that the next book will be my next great love, and then you are let down, disappointed by a book your fellow bloggers and reviews promised wouldn't disappoint.

It is always hard going against the flow.  Being that one person who has to say "I didn't like it" can be a lonely feeling at times.  It is a great test for us to go against what everyone else says and say for me the book was just "ehh," but a good review does just that and then tells you why they feel that way.  Sometimes we just don't connect to book, they are too far out of our range of experience, or we don't like the main character--there are numerous reasons.  Still it is important to stand up and say we didn't like it.

I don't believe that bad reviews hurt book sales.  I have purposely read a book before because a negative review intrigued me.  I have even purchased books based on a negative review--yep I'm certifiable.  What appeals to one person, may not appeal to another. So it is important for me to see those negative reviews.

Dare to be different and tell me what you really think.  This is what I have been telling teens at my library.  This year, we have a teen review program.  If a teen writes a review of a book (an opinion on a book) and turns it in to the library, they get a piece of candy.  If they are one of the 100 reviews I plan on posting over the course of our Summer Reading Club they get a very nice pair of earbuds that come in a colored zippered pouch that can attach to their key chains.  I announced my first round of winners today, and at least one of them didn't like the book.  Good for them! 

If you want to check out their reviews go to Teen Review Winners Round 1!  

Monday, June 18, 2012

What I am Reading This Week

My pace for reading has dwindled a bit over the last few weeks.  As Goodreads is so kind to remind me when I look in my sidebar, I am now 11 books behind.  I know I need to pick up the pace, but life has been a bit hectic lately.  You know how that is--we have all been there.  Anyway, here is what I am currently working on reading:

Dark Frost (Mythos Academy, #3)
I love this series, and can't wait for each new installment.  It is one of the few series, I am continuing to read!

Now Playing On Audio:
City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1)

I have been curious about this series for a while.  Some people love it, others hate it, and I want to know more.  I know I have a hard time keeping the books on shelves at the library, so I thought it was time to pick this one up and see for myself.  The audio isn't bad so far, but the older male voices take some getting used to. 

Just Finished:
Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy, #2)

The review for this one will be up soon, but let me just say I loved it.  I plan on purchasing a copy as soon as it comes out on July 10th!  In the meantime I plan on singing the praises of NetGalley--for giving me the opportunity to read this brilliant book.  Not sure about the cover though--what do you guys think?  

So what are you all reading?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Summer Reading Club Update: Yep That's Me on the Radio

Week two of our summer reading club is winding to a close.  Last week was our kickoff and our week for signups.  This week we started our summer programs and started giving out points and prizes to the kids.

It is always interesting to see parents and kids in the summer lugging in huge bags of books and stacking them on the table in front of me so I can count them.  I won't go into extensive detail here, but once a child earns 12 pts, they are eligible for a prize.  This week was rings, temporary tattoos, and a coupon.  My son loves rings and collects them every chance he gets, so I know this was a hit for the younger crowd.

The teen and an adult program is a little different.  For their programs they fill out a slip for every book they read which enters them in our drawings.  The more they read, the more entries they have in the drawing.

This year we started a special review program for the teens.  I am very excited to see some of them participate too!  They get a piece of candy for turning in the reviews, but if their review gets posted on our library's blog and on our Facebook page, they get a pair of really nice earbuds (the soft kind).  I wasn't sure how well this program would go over since some writing was required, but I have had several entries already, and some that really surprised me!  Too bad I can't get those kids to review their books here! :) 

This week's Teen and Adult program was "Pipeline Dreams" which is a skateboarding program hosted by a local skateboarding shop.  We did this program two years ago with a wonderful response and were so excited to do this again.  Last week I received a call from the local radio station wanting an interview--let me just say, I hate the way I sound on the radio--it's not how I think I sound.  If you are interested in listening to me, you can find the clip on the radio station's blog:

Let's just say that as much as I enjoy listening to audiobooks, I won't be auditioning for any audio parts EVER!!!

Overall it has been a great two weeks!  Can't wait to see what the rest of the summer has in store!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Thursday Thoughts: Loving a Book Everyone Else Hates

Okay, I am not going to name names here, so if you want to know what titles I am talking about you can just fill in the blank because I know you probably have that secret book that you loved when all your friends and fellow bloggers are looking at you and saying "you liked that book?"

We have all had books that we have reviewed, where we hated them while everyone else loved them.  We look at everyone's reviews, we read the book, and let down hits.  Sometimes, however, the tables are turned.  You find a book that you love, but everyone else hates.  What do you do?

Recently I picked a title for my friends in a book discussion group that fell into this category.  I loved the book, no I adored the book, and couldn't put it down.  Here I was eagerly waiting the sequel, when everyone else said they were happy to toss it aside when they finished. 

They all had their reasons for not liking the book, and they were reasonable about them, but none of liked it.  It is sad to be alone in your love of a book.  When you find a book you love, you can't wait to share it, hoping that others will appreciate it too.  Unfortunately, that isn't always the case.  Like the author who wrote the book, those of us who love it have to let it go out into the world and face the opinions of others. 

So do you want to share your secret book--the one you loved and others didn't?

Mine is... (See the comments below!)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Audio Book Book Review: Shine by Lauren Myracle

Title: Shine
Author: Lauren Myracle
Genre: Teen Fiction, General Fiction
Publication Date: May 1, 2011
Publisher: Amulet Books
ISBN-13 Book: 9780810984172
Disclosure: I received a copy of the book for consideration for committee work and checked out the audiobook from my public library.  This is my honest review!

ShineShine by Lauren Myracle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Cat knows that in her small town, being different isn't a good idea.  When her friend Patrick is attacked in what appears to be a hate crime because he is gay, Cat believes that the local police will just chalk the incident up to the actions of some out-of-towners.  Cat suspects that the culprit lives closer to home, and as she begins to investigate, she begins to uncover things about her little town that are best kept hidden.


I have wanted to read this book for a long time.  When it first came out I checked it out from my library, but never got around to reading it.  When the National Book Award debacle came out I tried to pick it up again, but still didn't get a chance to finish it.  This third time I was determined to sit down and finally read this work.

Myracle's character development is spot on.  Cat is a realistic and believable narrator who has flaws that make her all the more believable.  She is intelligent and her desire to solve the mystery seems sincere to the reader.  The other characters are equally well drawn and you can see that many of the characters are so much more than they appear. 

The mystery is a slow building one.  This may turn off some readers, but those who like mysteries with well laid foundations will find a lot to enjoy in this novel.  The mystery slowly unravels and you begin to see the town and the people under new a new light as Cat too, begins to learn more about herself and the town. 

The book has a lot of local character that makes you feel like you are right there in the town, with the people that Cat is interacting with.  The setting is well drawn, right down to the swimming hole.

In many ways this novel was one of self-discovery in addition to the mystery.  The revelations that Cat makes will change her forever.

Audio book Review

The audio book for Shine is produced by Brilliance Audio and read by Elizabeth Evans.  Evan’s narration is clear and articulate.  The accents make you feel that you are in this small southern town.  The audio book production is wonderfully done and very clean.  It is a great way to experience this novel.


This was a good book that definitely has a message to share.  If you like a slow building mystery, with great characters, revelations, and terrific plotting, this would be the book for you.

View all my reviews

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Thursday Thoughts: Summer Reading Club

Summer Reading Club (SRC) started this week at my library, and I actually feel more excited about it than I have the last few years.  Don't get me wrong, SRC is fun for kids, fun for teens, and fun for families.  It is even at moments fun for staff, but sometimes we all suffer the SRC burnout.  I think what has made this year better though is that we decided to ease ourselves into SRC rather than jumping into the deep end.  This year, our first week of SRC is just for signing up and finding books.  We aren't letting anyone turn in books and collect points.  In my opinion, this has made the SRC a little more manageable.  Next week we will start the points, and perhaps that is when the chaos will ensue. :)

Don't get me wrong I have a love/hate relationship with our Summer Reading Club.  I really love seeing all the kids and teens coming in checking out books and reading.  I love to see them excited about programs and events going on at the library.  Most of all I am glad to see them coming in in droves--it proves we are doing something good--great even.  As the summer progresses though, we begin to recognize the cheaters--the ones who only want to participate for the prizes and who lie about reading books.  It can be disheartening.  Also, the SRC at any library is a lot of work for the staff.  We put so much time and effort into making the SRC great, and by the end we are counting the days until the end because we are exhausted.

We always have a wild kickoff party for our SRC, and this year I learned that I suck at origami.  Yep, I worked the origami table and it took me an hour to figure out how to make a star.  It's sad I know.  Cross origami off my list of potential hobbies (I am thinking of trying my hand at some jewelry making--maybe I will have better luck).  Our kickoff lasted from 6 pm to 8 pm, and by the end of those two hours I felt like I had been trampled by children, teens, and their parents.  I was so sore when I went home I couldn't sleep because laying down hurt. :) (I guess the tension just builds and I don't know it is there until after the event is over.  It happens every year when I do Battle of the Books too.) 

I look forward to our programs this summer, and hope that our patrons will enjoy them as much as I think I will.  I hope I don't let the cheaters get me down, and I hope that I can have a fun and exciting SRC this year. 

Most of all I wish to thank all the library staff everywhere, who start planning their SRC's months in advance, all for the enjoyment of their patrons.  It's hard work making Summer Reading Club great--so go to your libraries and enjoy the opportunities you have.  


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