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Audiobook Review: This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

This Is What Happy Looks Like

Title: This is What Happy Looks Like

Author: Jennifer E. Smith

Publisher: Poppy

Published: April 2, 2013

Summary from (Goodreads):

If fate sent you an email, would you answer?

When teenage movie star Graham Larkin accidentally sends small town girl Ellie O’Neill an email about his pet pig, the two seventeen-year-olds strike up a witty and unforgettable correspondence, discussing everything under the sun, except for their names or backgrounds.

Then Graham finds out that Ellie’s Maine hometown is the perfect location for his latest film, and he decides to take their relationship from online to in-person. But can a star as famous as Graham really start a relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie want to avoid the media’s spotlight at all costs?

Review: I’m a sucker for books with great covers. When I saw this cover, I knew I had to read it or in this case listen to it. I liked that there were two narrators (one for the chapters about Graham and one for the chapters about Ellie). I was drawn in by the emails that the two send at the beginning of the novel. It was a nice change of pace from regular prose. Both characters are extremely likable and each has their own quirks. I really enjoyed the Hollywood aspect of the novel. With all the reality shows and glamorizing of movie stars, it was nice to have one painted as a normal teen (who isn’t all about the fame). The pacing was perfect. Smith does an excellent job of unfolding past drama as she reveals the current storyline. This is a cute love story with a twist. The one thing that kept running through my mind as I listened, was why doesn’t Colorado have a “state treat”? Hmm…I wonder how we get that to happen.


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Audiobook Review: The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider

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Audiobook Review: Gorgeous by Paul Rudnick

GorgeousTitle: Gorgeous
Author: Paul Rudnick

Publisher: Scholastic Press
Published: April 30, 2013

Source: Audible.com

Summary (from Goodreads): Inner beauty wants out.

When eighteen-year-old Becky Randle’s mother dies, she’s summoned from her Missouri trailer park to meet Tom Kelly, the world’s top designer. He makes her an impossible offer: He’ll create three dresses to transform Becky from a nothing special girl into the most beautiful woman who ever lived.

Becky thinks Tom is a lunatic, or that he’s producing a hidden camera show called World’s Most Gullible Poor People. But she accepts, and she’s remade as Rebecca. When Becky looks in the mirror, she sees herself – an awkward mess of split ends and cankles. But when anyone else looks at Becky, they see pure five-alarm hotness.

Soon Rebecca is on the cover of Vogue, the new Hollywood darling, and dating celebrities. Then Becky meets Prince Gregory, heir to the British throne, and everything starts to crumble. Because Rebecca aside, Becky loves him. But to love her back, Gregory would have to look past the blinding Rebecca to see the real girl inside. And Becky knows there’s not enough magic in the world.

A screamingly defiant, hugely naughty, and impossibly fun free fall past the cat walks, the red carpets, and even the halls of Buckingham Palace,Gorgeous does the impossible: It makes you see yourself clearly for the first time.

Review: Ok, this book wasn’t for me; however, I’m sure that many of my students will like it. There were funny parts and I loved hearing about the glam life but I couldn’t get behind all the magical things that were happening. The characters were hilarious and lovable and because of that I wanted to like the book more than I did. I was hooked at the beginning by the line about trailer parks but the second half of the book lost momentum for me.

I did enjoy the audio production. All the voices were well done.

Like I said, this wasn’t my favorite book but I’ve always agreed with the idea that there is a book for every reader and a reader for every book. If you’re looking for a modern fairy tale then this is the book for you.

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Review (Audiobook): Life After Theft by Aprilynne Pike

Life After TheftTitle: Life After Theft

Author: Aprilynne Pike

Publisher: Harper Teen

Published: April 20, 2013

Source: Purchased from Audible.com

Summary (from Goodreads): Moving to a new high school sucks. Especially a rich-kid private school. With uniforms. But nothing is worse than finding out the first girl you meet is dead. And a klepto.

No one can see or hear Kimberlee except Jeff, so–in hopes of bringing an end to the snarkiest haunting in history–he agrees to help her complete her “unfinished business.” But when the enmity between Kimberlee and Jeff’s new crush, Sera, manages to continue posthumously, Jeff wonders if he’s made the right choice.

Clash meets sass in this uproarious modern-day retelling of Baroness Orczy’s The Scarlet Pimpernel.

Review: I found myself making excuses to drive around so I could listen to this book. Jeff and Kimberlee are unforgettable characters. Jeff is likable even though he drives a nicer car than I would ever dream of. But all joking aside, Jeff is well-developed character who has a big heart. It’s frustrating at times to see (or in my case, hear) him get bulldozed by Kimberlee but he always finds a way to hold his own.

It was ironic that the day that I finished this book, Six Sense was on tv because when I originally read the summary, that is what immediately came to mind. However, any time seeing dead people is brought up that’s usually where my mind goes. But this book is much more than seeing a dead girl. Each character who is introduced has a complex story that is tangled up in Kimberlee’s pre-death antics which makes for great twists and turns in the plot. It is also much more light-hearted than most “ghost stories.” There are some really funny scenes. The dialogue in this book is fantastic. Play the dead card quote

The only part of the audiobook that I didn’t enjoy (which had nothing to do with the story) was the voice that Jesse Bernstein did for Kyle. It was a little too cliche for my taste. In addition, I found it difficult to not laugh at the horrible accent for Officer Herrera. I really enjoyed Berstein’s reading of The Tragedy Paper, so I was a little disappointed when he read these two characters’ parts. Despite that, I would highly recommend the audiobook. The witty comments and hilarious banter is just too good to not have it performed for you.

I only wish that it would be available in print and not just e-book and audiobook so I could purchase it for the Bookshelves of Room 918.

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Review (Audiobook): The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

The StorytellerTitle: The Storyteller

Author: Jodi Piccoult

Publisher: Atria

Published: February 26, 2013

Source: audible.com

Summary (from Goodreads): Sage Singer befriends an old man who’s particularly beloved in her community. Josef Weber is everyone’s favorite retired teacher and Little League coach. They strike up a friendship at the bakery where Sage works. One day he asks Sage for a favor: to kill him. Shocked, Sage refuses…and then he confesses his darkest secret – he deserves to die, because he was a Nazi SS guard. Complicating the matter? Sage’s grandmother is a Holocaust survivor.

What do you do when evil lives next door? Can someone who’s committed a truly heinous act ever atone for it with subsequent good behavior? Should you offer forgiveness to someone if you aren’t the party who was wronged? And most of all – if Sage even considers his request – is it murder, or justice?

Review: I know this isn’t YA but I absolutely love Jodi Picoult’s books. This one is no different. Not only is it excellent written but the audiobook was an amazing performance. Each character is read by a different person so you get the full experience of each character’s voice. As usual, Picoult’s storyline made me laugh, cry and gasp for air. My students are currently reading novels/memoirs about the Holocaust and I plan to add this title to the list for next year. I always go into the pages (or in this case the audio) of Picoult’s work with one way of thinking about her topic and come out the other side utterly confused on where I stand–which I welcome each and every time. If you’re a fan of Picoult, don’t miss this one. And if you haven’t had the opportunity to read her work, let this be your first experience.

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