Karou lives in two worlds, both filled with mysterious unknowns. When asked, she can’t really answer who or what she is. She was raised in the shop of the demon wishgiver known as Brimstone. With his few loyal servants, Brimstone spends his days making necklaces of teeth and gems. Human traders bring teeth in exchange for wishes, but no one knows the purpose for Brimstone’s necklaces. Karou spends part of her life in the human world and the other part with Brimstone.
When Karou meets Akiva, a seraph and sworn enemy of her demon family, Karou learns answers to some of the unknowns. However, as she learns the truth about her past, she also learns of great pain in her future. Daughter of Smoke and Bone gives a unique take on the traditional war between angels and demons. The story is intriguing and the characters are complex and filled with strengths and weaknesses. I found the love story a little too mushy (a lot of gazing into eyes and feeling fire), but never inappropriate. It is a good book for fantasy readers who enjoy a lot of talk about love, but like it to stay clean.
Recommended for ages 14 and up
As a family, we listened to The Secret History of Tom Trueheart on a long road trip. Usually we need breaks from our audio books, but this story entertained all ages from four to thirty-seven so well that we listened to the last four hours straight through. It is a good family book, either for listening or reading out loud. (We listened to the recording performed by John Curless. Apparently there is another audio book out there).
Tom’s six older brothers are all adventurers in the Land of Stories. They go on exciting missions and return home to share their tales with the world, but Tom stays home with his mother. When his brothers fail to come home in time for Tom’s twelfth birthday, both Tom and his mother fear that something has gone terribly wrong. Soon, Tom receives his own mission from the Story Bureau. He must enter the Land of Stories and discover the fate of his older brothers. As he journeys on his mission, Tom creates his own story and finds that he is an adventurer with as much courage and determination as his brothers.
The Secret History of Tom Trueheart is an entertaining story of magic and adventure. With elements of multiple well-known fairy tales, it contains familiarity with some wonderful twists. The excitement and action keeps older readers interested, but nothing is too dark and frightening for younger readers.
Recommended for ages 4 and up
Another Pan is a much darker version of Peter Pan placed in a more modern age with hints of Egyptian mythology sprinkled throughout. Wendy and John Darling are students at Marlowe, an elitist New York high school, because their father is a member of the faculty. They are embarrassed by their father’s obsession with Egyptology until they begin working on a special exhibit arranged for the school. They meet Peter, a mysterious new RA, and his gang of boys who refer to themselves as the LBs. Soon Wendy and John are swept up in Peter’s quest to find ‘bone dust’, a dust in the bones of certain mummies and purported to bring eternal life. Strangely, these bones are found in a part of the Egyptian underworld that has relocated to beneath the Marlowe school.
For readers expecting a flying and light-hearted Peter with a harmless crush on sweet, motherly Wendy, this is quite a different story. The evil in Another Pan is much deeper than bumbling Captain Hook and Peter’s selfish desire for immortality is more cutting. In spite of the darker feel, the story is well constructed and exciting to read. I listened to the audio book excellently read by Katherine Kelgren. The story is clean and appropriate for teen readers, but a little too dark and suspenseful for younger children.
This novella by Neil Gaiman manages to present a profound story about love and forgiveness (of yourself as well as others) in a very short space. It includes Gaiman’s typical poetic brilliance, odd darkness, and compelling characters. It is an intriguing story and an excellently read audio book (Katherine Kelgren—my favorite). With the dark story, I would recommend it for teen readers.
When preparing for dinner one evening, Samantha finds herself switched with her reflection in the mirror. She is trapped in a strange world where nothing seems to make sense and she can only find riddles for how to escape. In her quest to get back home, Sam also finds herself fighting to save her long lost brother as well as herself. She soon finds freedom will only come as she forgives herself and learns to love the person she is.
The greatness of an audio book lies in the reader. Even some of my favorite books, if read improperly, can be ruined. On the other hand, a great reader can make a story my favorite. The problem is, we all have different tastes in what sounds appealing. I might enjoy a type of voice or certain inflection that may drive you crazy and vice versa. So how do you pick good audio books? Continue reading