The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch – Audiobook Review

The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch, narrated by Dan Bittner
Published in audio by Scholastic Audio, published in print by Scholastic Press

Synopsis:

From the publisher:

In an America devastated by war and plague, the only way to survive is to keep moving.

In the aftermath of a war, America’s landscape has been ravaged and two-thirds of the population left dead from a vicious strain of influenza. Fifteen-year-old Stephen Quinn and his family were among the few that survived and became salvagers, roaming the country in search of material to trade. But when Stephen’s grandfather dies and his father falls into a coma after an accident, Stephen finds his way to Settler’s Landing, a community that seems too good to be true. Then Stephen meets strong, defiant, mischievous Jenny, who refuses to accept things as they are. And when they play a prank that goes horribly wrong, chaos erupts, and they find themselves in the midst of a battle that will change Settler’s Landing–and their lives–forever.

Thoughts on the story:

I would have perhaps liked to have more information about how exactly the world as we now know it collapsed in The Eleventh Plague, but that might not be a reasonable request since Stephen is a teenager who was born after the collapse. The Eleventh Plague‘s biggest strength is its depictions of how Stephen adjusts to living in a civilization, after having lived all his life on the move. He has heard stories about the organizations and games, so school and baseball aren’t unfamiliar, but Stephen has trouble accepting the trust inherent in civilization. The people of Settler’s Landing aren’t his family, they don’t know him, so why should they help him?

Thoughts on the audio production:

Dan Bittner is a good fit for The Eleventh Plague. He does not sound fifteen exactly, but his voice is youthful enough that I could accept him as Stephen without much problem. He narrates in a natural voice, no attempts (none noticeable, anyway) to make his voice higher as an attempt to sound younger. His delivery is natural and he captures Stephen’s angst as he tries to fit into Settler’s Landing’s civilization.

Overall:

An enjoyable listen.

Buy this book from:
Powells: Audio/Print*
Indiebound: Audio/Print*

Source: Personal copy.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

Sound Bytes is a meme that occurs every Friday! I encourage you to review your audiobooks on Fridays and include the link here. If you have reviewed an audiobook earlier in the week, please feel free to link that review as well. Thanks to Pam for creating the button.

 

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The Gingerbread Man – Saturday Story Spotlight

Welcome to Saturday Story Spotlight, my feature where I discuss books my husband and I are reading with our son, Daniel. These are books that he, we, or all of us particularly enjoy.

The Gingerbread Man illustrated by Karen Schmidt
Published by Scholastic Paperbacks, an imprint of Scholastic

I’m sure you all know the basics of this one: gingerbread man comes to life, taunts those who attempt to chase him, becomes over-confident, gets eaten by a fox.

We started reading this with Daniel around Thanksgiving and it became a favorite in no time and has been an oft-requested book for the entirety of winter (or what has passed for winter this year, anyway). Most of the time Daniel now “reads” this to us, at the very least reciting the gingerbread man’s lines “Run, run, run, as fast as you can, you can’t catch me I’m the gingerbread man!” Actually, he doesn’t just recite those lines when we’re reading the book, if he’s running (particularly if he’s running AWAY from us around the house) he is extremely likely to be shouting the same lines.

The predictive text in this book is great for a pre-reader like Daniel, but what is even better is how much it has captured his imagination.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Personal copy
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.
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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – Audiobook Thoughts

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling, narrated by Jim Dale
Published in audio by Listening Library, published in print by Scholastic

Synopsis:

What more is there to say about Harry Potter, particularly the first book in the series? Harry is terribly mistreated by his relatives and has a generally miserable life, until he finds out he is a wizard. The discovery is slightly bittersweet when Harry finds out that his parents were brutally murdered by the now-disappeared evil wizard Voldemort.

Thoughts on the story:

It may be that I’ve finally just read this series too many times. I’m starting to see things that don’t quite line up throughout (I blame Michelle for pointing out inconsistencies in book 7 when we watched the movie). I was also struck on this reread at just how ridiculous the opening scene with the Dudleys really is. They might as well have been tying Harry to a railroad track and twirling their mustaches. Honestly, it sort of annoyed me a little. Eventually I was able to get back into the book, but it took longer than usual.

Thoughts on the audio production:

I’ve listened to the rest of the series in audio narrated by Jim Dale before and been impressed, but at times during Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone I distinctly heard Dale make mouth noises, such as lip smacking, which sort of disgusted me and turned me off.

Overall:

I was all excited about going through the series again, but now I’m feeling sort of blah about it. Anyone up for convincingme?

Buy this book from:
Powells: Audio | Print*
Indiebound: Audio | Print*

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And now from a brief word from our friends over at Audiobook Jukebox:

Are you a blogger who reviews audiobooks? Whether you review them regularly, occasionally, or exclusively, there’s a new place to find free review copies for your perusal. The site is called Audiobook Jukebox and we’ve recently started a new program called Solid Gold Reviewers.

The idea is to have a place where audiobook publishers can offer titles for review and reviewers can select those titles which interest them the most. At the beginning of this month, 9 publishers helped us get started by offering 42 titles and over 100 copies for review. I’d like to invite you to check out the guidelines and then take a look at the titles listed.

I hope you’ll see something interesting to listen to and review. If not, check back next month (we already have some additional publishers who’ve said they’ll contribute). If we all participate, more publishers will contribute more of the audio we love. In turn, we’ll have the chance to tell others about more great listens!

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I’m launching a brand-new meme every Friday! I encourage you to review any audiobooks you review on Fridays and include the link here. If you have reviewed an audiobook earlier in the week, please feel free to link that review as well. Thanks to Pam for creating the button.

Source: library.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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Forever by Maggie Stiefvater – Book Review

Forever by Maggie Stiefvater
Published by Scholastic Press

This is the third book in the Wolves of Mercy Falls series. This review may contain spoilers for the first two books, Shiver and Linger. I also have a giveaway going on now for Forever.

Ever since her brother Jack was presumed to be killed by them, Isabel Culpepper’s father has had it in for the wolves of Mercy Falls. Of course Isabel knows that the wolves aren’t really wolves at all, but humans who spend time in wolf form, and that they didn’t kill Jack so much as turn him. Luckily Sam is human again these days, as is Cole most of the time, but Grace is finally turning, and has been a wolf all winter. Frankly, Sam has enough to worry about as a suspect in Grace’s disappearance, without worrying about Mr. Culpepper getting together a hunt and directly threatening her life, and the life of the rest of the pack.

There are some really interesting threads of story going on in Forever, particularly in Cole’s development. He is a much more multifaceted character than he was in Linger, especially as he begins to care for Grace and Sam – or at least for what they have together. By this point, Cole and Isabel really get to tell a great amount of the story, especially with Grace spending so much of her time as a wolf.

I think it was the fact that Grace was narrating out of a wolf’s brain so often that made me less enthused about Forever than about Shiver and Linger. Of course I love Sam, how could anyone not? And Isabel and Cole are certainly fascinating and relatively well-developed secondary characters, but it seems that Grace is the anchor of the series for me. With her a relatively small part of the book, narration-wise, I had much less emotional investment in this portion of the story. Luckily it was still strongly-written with an engaging plot, but it just didn’t do quite as much for me as the first three.

Despite my lack of enthusiasm for the third book in the series, I do recommend the Wolves of Mercy Falls series as a whole. Although secrets are kept and parents defied, the relationship between Grace and Sam is built on familiarity, respect, and affection, and it is much more romantic than certain relationships between certain klutzy girls and sparkly vampires, and much more the type of relationship I would like to read about myself and share with teens

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publicist.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.
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Will You Wear a Blue Hat? – Saturday Story Spotlight

Welcome to Saturday Story Spotlight, my feature where I discuss books my husband and I are reading with our son, Daniel. These are books that he, we, or all of us particularly enjoy.

Will You Wear a BLUE Hat?by Scholastic
Published by Children’s Press, an imprint of Scholastic

First farm animals, now primary colored outerwear. I’m starting to really dig the Rookie Toddler series from Scholastic. In Will You Wear a BLUE Hat, a little boy is being questioned by an unseen other about which of his primary colored pieces of clothing he will wear in order to go outside and stay warm.

We read this book three times just today, because it is just awesome. Daniel is making really good progress on his letters (he can identify almost all of them, and say nearly the entire alphabet) and can count to 10 pretty well, and knows lots of animal names and noises, even some shapes, so I figured the next thing we need to work on is colors. I adore Will You Wear a BLUE Hat for that.

For starters, all of the color names are printed in their eponymous color. The question (for example, “Will you wear a blue hat?”) is repeated in a sing song fashion with a great cadence, with the options shown, and then on the next page the child is seen wearing the item. It was a great conversation starter about color, we talked about all the different colored items on the page, and by the third time we had read the book, Daniel seemed quite confident about naming the color of each item.

I taught elementary school, so I am comfortable pulling out textual and pictoral elements to enrich a reading time, but for parents who are not comfortable with this, this series of books has “Rookie Storytime Tips” in the back of each one, giving clues for taking the learning experience besides just the text in the book.

I’ll be looking for more from this series, and I’m sure we haven’t read this one for the last time.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Library copy
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.
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