18 September 2017

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts: 2 Great Audiobooks and a Book in Print

2 Great Audiobooks, 1 Good BookThe joys of getting a new computer spilled over in other improvements. I now have a second monitor (swoon, why did I wait so long to do this?) and new computer speakers. I think that's going to be it on acquisitions for the office for a while.

In other news, we're starting to feel the hints of fall, with cooler weather and some changing leaves. The garden is winding down as well, though I'm keeping the annuals on the deck well watered, so they should last until the first frost. We took advantage of the beautiful Saturday afternoon to hike at a local nature preserve.

As I write this, we're looking forward to watching Ken Burns's newest PBS series on the Vietnam War, which premiered last night. I hope it's as good as the behind-the-scenes video.

What I Read Last Week

Review: A Column of Fire by Ken FollettA Column of Fire by Ken Follett (Viking, Sept. 12). If you like really well written and well researched historical fiction with characters you can fall in love in with, then you really need to read Ken Follett's Kingsbridge series. The first two books were set primarily in England in the 1100s and the 1300s, respectively, and this installment takes us to Elizabethan times, where we see how the town and cathedral have fared over the centuries. Follett seems to know his history, and I love the details of daily life. The intertwining of local families through love and hate, cooperation and competition plus the seesaw of Protestant, Catholic, Protestant trends (including the violence of the St. Bartholomew massacre and the failed Gunpowder Plot) drive the many-layered novel. From Bloody Mary through James I, English family fortunes and prospects hinged on the monarch's religion and level of tolerance, often influenced by the politics of Europe. If you're an audiobook fan, then you must spend 30+ hours with John Lee (Penguin Random House Audio). His consistent accents, solid characterizations, and impeccable sense of timing bring the book alive. I fully recommend this book in whatever medium you pick. (review copy provided by the publisher)

Review: Click'd by Tamara Ireland StoneClick'd by Tamara Ireland Stone (Disney-Hyperion, Sept. 5). This contemporary middle grade novel is about a young girl who attends a summer educational camp, where she develops a friendship app while perfecting her coding skills. Impressed with Allie's creativity and initial success, the judges of a teen coding competition invite her to enter the contest. While preparing for the competition, Allie decides to test her app during the first week of middle school by encouraging her classmates to download the game, which promises to find each player ten perfectly matched friends. The app takes off like wildfire, until a damaging flaw threatens to reveal private photos from participants' phones. Can Allie fix the code before she's barred from the contest and loses her best buddies? I enjoyed getting to know Allie and found the lessons she learned about friendship, asking for help, and facing setbacks to be nicely presented. The geeky girls were well-rounded: they were smart and capable but still giggled about their early teen crushes. I'm not quite sure the technological details of the app are realistic, but I still wanted to see if Allie was able to set things back on track. Middle grade readers will like this book more than adults. (review copy provided by the publisher)

Review: The Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay MooreThe Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay Moore (Knopf Books for Young Readers, Sept. 19). I don't claim to be any expert in what it's like to live in Harlem, but Moore's debut novel for older middle grade and young adult readers left me with a deeper understanding. At just 12 years old, Lolly has already experienced a lot of life's harshest realities: his older brother was killed as a result of gang violence; his parents are divorced; he's afraid to walk along certain streets, even in his own neighborhood; and he and his mother live in the projects, complete with broken elevator, urine-scented stairways, and unexplained power outages. The story begins at Christmas, just six weeks after Lolly's brother's murder, and follows the boy as he comes to terms with his grief and makes choices that will either pull him deep into gang life or offer him a way out of the projects. The characters speak in dialect, and the level of help (or not) that Lolly receives seems to be realistic. My heart went out to him, and I hoped the young boy would find a safe path. Other themes are friendship, creativity, LGBTQ, learning disabilities, and coming of age. This is a powerful story with wide appeal across the generations. Moore, who spent some time in Harlem as an adult, writes with authority and frankness. The audiobook (Listening Library; 6 hr, 19 min) was brilliantly read by Nile Bullock. His youthful voice and respectful rendition of Harlem dialect pull the listener into the story, and the emotional impact of his performance makes this a must-hear audiobook. (review copy provided by the publisher)

16 comments:

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz 9/18/17, 6:39 AM  

I think David Barclay Moore is coming to the Texas Book Festival in November. (At least, I hope he is.) I definitely am interested in reading this book. I'm so glad we are leaving a time when all YA fiction is set in the white (and tediously boring) suburbs.

https://readerbuzz.blogspot.com/2017/09/back-to-schoolfor-second-time.html

Sarah (Sarah's Book Shelves) 9/18/17, 7:07 AM  

I've been hearing such good things about Column of Fire...and I loved the first 2, I just don't have a 900+ page book in me right now and fiction doesn't work that well for me on audio.

May save this one until my kids are older and I have more uninterrupted reading time.

Susie | Novel Visits 9/18/17, 8:52 AM  

I used to love reading Follett, but didn't read either of the to books in this series, so guess I'll skip A Column of Fire, too. I'm in awe of you listening to a 30 hour book. Maybe in the summer when I have more down time, but usually I try to stick to under 14 hours. Have a great week!

bermudaonion 9/18/17, 9:58 AM  

I'm not big on historical fiction so I think I'll skip the Follett book. The Stars Beneath Our Feet sounds terrific.

Laurel-Rain Snow 9/18/17, 10:41 AM  

I am curious about Click'd, which sounds like a delightful book.

Enjoy your week, and thanks for sharing. Thanks for visiting my blog.

Kathy Martin 9/18/17, 11:16 AM  

Nice assortment of books. I think I'd like Click'd best of them all. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea 9/18/17, 1:10 PM  

I use to listen to a lot more audio books at one time (while I worked) but these days 1-2 mph is my max it seems. I'll have to check these out though.

Sherry Fundin 9/18/17, 2:42 PM  

Glad the computer is a hit, as were the books.
sherry @ fundinmental

pussreboots 9/18/17, 2:49 PM  

I'm adding both Click'd and The Stars Beneath Our Feet to my wishlist. Come see what I'm reading

Yvonne 9/18/17, 5:54 PM  

Nice to get the second monitor and the new speakers. Enjoy them.

The books look good. Hope you have fun reading.

Have a great week!

(Diane) bookchickdi 9/18/17, 9:42 PM  

The Stars Beneath Our Feet sounds so good, and my husband wants to watch the Ken Burns series.

Nise' 9/18/17, 9:46 PM  

Watched the first episode of Vietnam War and discovered so much I didn't know. Very well done and look forward to the entire series. Looking forward to the Ken Follet book.

Hardlyagoddess 9/18/17, 9:53 PM  

I used to love KenFollett but haven't read him in years- I can't bring myself to commit to those tomes! I love audio and think my reading definitely increases when I have a good one!

Greg 9/19/17, 2:04 AM  

It's starting to look and feel a bit like fall here too, and I can't wait actually. I'm all geared up for fall this year! And yay for the second monitor- that sounds like a great idea. I may have to do that!

Hope you have a nice week.

Sue Jackson 9/20/17, 6:07 PM  

Wow, 30-hour audiobook! I really enjoyed reading The Pillars of the Earth (it's what started my Big Book Summer Challenge :) ) and was completely unaware that there was even a book 2, until someone in my book group mentioned this 3rd one was out now! I better get busy - maybe my Big Books for next summer?

Both MG novels sound good, too.

Enjoy your books this week -

Sue

Book By Book

Daryl 9/25/17, 10:29 AM  

adding to the list of listening .. thanks!

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