Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Audio Book: Sorta Like A Rock Star by Matthew Quick

Sorta Like A Rock Star is excellent young adult literature. An unusual premiss; Amber Appleton, a poor homeless girl and her mother live in the back of a school bus that her mother drives during the day to earn money. In the face of all hardships, our 16 year old "rock star" remains relentlessly optimistic. One day, however, tradegy strikes, and the horror of it challenges Amber in ways she never anticipated. Will her faith in mankind withstand the unexpcted brutality of a total stranger?

Read by Cynthia Holloway whose acting career spans stage, film and television as well as other work requiring theatrical ability. As the reader of Sorta Like a Rock Star she assigns each character a different voice and a believeable set of emotions. She makes you smile, laugh and cry as Amber Appleton, aka "Rock Star" clings to an optimistic view of life in the face of great odds that would lead a weaker soul to despair.

Audio Book: The Cardturner by Louis Sachar

"It's hard not to feel sorry for seventeen-year-old Alton Richards when his parents rope him into driving his cranky, blind, great-Uncle Lester to his bridge club four times a week - during summer vacation, no less. Even worse: Alton must be Uncle Lester's eyes during this old-fashioned game; his cardturner. As the summer wears on, Alton, in turn, learns the game of bridge requires players to look beyond the surface, which extends to the way he perceives his uncle. Despite his blindness, Uncle Lester is quite insightful. The Cardturner by Louis Sachar is a wholly original story that breaks many rules of what should be an interesting book for teens. It's about bridge - a game for old people and not even parent old, more like grandparent old. I can assure you, the author manages to make the subject not only a good read, but you may even consider playing bridge because the book provides some "how to" tips as a bonus. In his Newbery Award winning Holes, Mr. Sachar broke a few rules, too. And I, for one, hope that he continues to be his wonderful non-conformist self , writing about whatever subject or story moves him." -- Reviewed by Michelle Delisle for Whatcha Reading Now?
Read by Luis Sachar, the author, this audio book would benefit from narration by a trained actor as the subject matter can be dry (if you aren't into cards). Never-the-less, Sachars enthusiasm for the card game Bridge comes through loud and clear in his reading and, at times, is very contagous.

Audio Book: Son of the Mob by Gordon Korman

"Vince Luca, 17, has always been concerned, embarrassed, and fearful about his crime-family background, though he has sworn never to become involved or to let it keep him from upstanding behavior. During his senior year, all he wants is romance, friendship, and to get through school, just like any normal guy, but things don't go as planned. His new girlfriend turns out to be the daughter of the FBI agent who is bugging his house; his older brother has figured out how to use his New Media class Web-page project for a bookmaking scheme; and he decides to save two lowlifes who owe big bucks to his father from the pains of mob revenge." Review from School Lirary Journal
Reader Max Casella spits Korman's words out at a rapid fire pace, and the speed is perfect for this delightfully humorous story that spoofs organized crime. "Uncle Pampers" and "Uncle N0-nose" will have you laughing out loud. He successfully conveys Vince's determination, frustration and acceptance of the absurd as the high schooler tries explaining to his family that he is "not goin' inta da bizness." Vince desires may be pure and authentic, but sometimes life just gets in the way of our deepest desires.

Audio Book: Boy in the Stripped Pajamas by John Boyne

Berlin, 1942: When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move to a new home out-side of a Nazi concentration camp, where his father will be incharge. At the camp a tall fence stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the people on the other side. People in stripped pajamas. While exploring his new environment, he meets a boy his own age, who lives on the other side of the fence and whose life and circumstances are very different to his own. Their meeting slowly turns into a friendship that has devastating consequences.
Reader, Michael Maloney, digs deep, calling on all of his training as a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company to successfully convey the confusion, delight, and then outrage of our central character, nine-year old Bruno. He is particularly convicing, and heartbreaking, as he relates the terrible abuse and torment inflicted by the controlling soldier on the "people in the striped pajamas."

Audio Book: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

When Clary Fray witnesses three tattoo-covered teenagers murder another teen, she is unable to prove the crime because the victim disappears right in front of her eyes, and no one else can see the killers. She learns that the teens are Shadowhunters (humans who hunt and kill demons), and Clary, a mundie (i.e., mundane human), should not be able to see them either. Shortly after this discovery, her mother, Jocelyn, an erstwhile Shadowhunter, is kidnapped. Jocelyn is the only person who knows the whereabouts of The Mortal Cup, a dangerous magical item that turns humans into Shadowhunters. Clary must find the cup and keep it from a renegade sector of Shadowhunters bent on eliminating all nonhumans, including benevolent werewolves and friendly vampires. Review from the School Library Journal
Narrator, Ari Graynor, does a good job keeping the story moving along, but fails to differentiate the voices of the various teens or successfully convey their emotions. In spite of these short comings, it is still easy to tell the characters apart and the story is steller making the emotions obvious.