Vacation week is almost over, but there’s still plenty of time to travel. If you don’t want to listen to the sound of tires rumbling or music, beat the traveling blues with a book on CD. If you’re looking for something new, try one of these selections…
* * *
Museum of Thieves
by Lian Tanner, Read by Claudia Black
6 CDs, 6 hours, 48 minutes
Goldie Roth lives in Jewel, a city in a world where all children are protected. So protected that they are attached at all times to the adults in their lives with locks and chains. Although most of the children have loving parents who would do anything to keep them safe, the world knows that parents are not all-seeing, so the protection of children is left to the Blessed Guardians. Until their sixteenth year, children spend most of their times under the care of the Blessed Guardians.
Goldie chafes at that protection, longing to be independent and free of the chains. Her inability to obey the Guardians makes them place her in heavy punishment chains, much more restrictive than the everyday chains. But her freedom is within sight…Goldie is overjoyed to be going to Separation Day, the ceremony where children have their chains removed and they are free. Usually, Separation Day happens only when children reach sixteen years, but the Grand Protector of the City of Jewel has declared that this year, Separation Day will happen for everyone between twelve and sixteen years. And Goldie is first in line!
But only one chain is broken with the city is attacked. The Blessed Guardians are told to stop the Separation, and get the children back to their hall. Goldie cannot stand it. She grabs the pair of scissors from the Blessed Guardian’s hands and breaks her chains herself. But now she can’t go home, or she’ll just end up back in chains. She has to find somewhere to hide, somewhere to live until she can figure out what to do next. Wandering through the city, she finds The Museum of Dunt. And suddenly, her life is completely turned around. She meets the residents of the Museum and finds out that Jewel isn’t quite as safe as everyone thought. And if she wants to save herself, she has to work with a strange group of people to save Jewel…from the attackers and from itself.
Museum of Thieves is narrated by actress Claudia Black, who has an absolutely WONDERFUL voice for reading aloud. She brings the characters completely to life, with accents and pacing. I just love her take on every character.
Museum of Thieves is the first book of the Keepers Trilogy, so it does end on a bit of a cliffhanger. The other books in the trilogy are City of Lies and Path of Beasts, which are also available. If you have middle grade students who enjoyed the movies of The Hunger Games or The Maze Runner, this science fiction/dystopian world book would be a great read at a slightly more accessible level for fourth through seventh graders. It would be an enjoyable car audio for a family trip.
* * *
A Snicker of Magic
By Natalie Lloyd, Narrated by Cassandra Morris
8 CDs, 8.25 hours
Felicity Pickle is used to moving. Every few months, Mama packs Felicity and her younger sister Frannie Jo and their dog Biscuit into their van, the Pickled Jalepeno, and the little family wanders on to a new place. But this time, Mama landed them in Midnight Gulch, the town where she grew up, staying in the small apartment with Aunt Cleo, Mama’s sister.
Felicity isn’t quite sure what to expect of Midnight Gulch, it seems to be the same as every other town they’ve rolled into. Then she discovers that Midnight Gulch used to be magical; it was a place where people could dance up thunderstorms, save memories in a jar and bake secrets into pies. Felicity’s ability to see words kind of fits right in there, even though she doesn’t exactly want to share her ability with anyone but Frannie Jo. Mama and Aunt Cleo are reluctant to tell anyone, but Felicity soon learns from other people in town that most of the magic has drained away due to a curse. But even so, there’s still a tiny bit, just a snicker of magic, that may be left.
And that’s good, because Felicity Pickle wants to settle down and stay somewhere. If she can find a way to settle Mama’s wandering heart with a little magic, that’s what she’s going to do. Felicity soon finds herself in the midst of her new town, making friends and meeting people and finding out about the magic. But can Felicity manage to find the answer to the town’s needs before Mama leaves? She’s going to do her best!
A Snicker of Magic is a fun book to read, the language is rich, and colorful and it comes to life, even when it’s not narrated. But the audio recording enhances that so much more. Cassandra Morris has a wonderful slightly southern accent, with a unique twist of phrase. I loved Felicity and her family and their way with words.
A Snicker of Magic is a book that readers of Three Times Lucky, Savvy, and A Tangle of Knots will love. Readers from third through sixth grades will enjoy both the print and audio versions of this book, but listeners of all ages–even grownups–would also enjoy it. It’s definitely my new favorite of 2014!
* * *
and for a complete change of pace…
by Sally Green, Narrated by Carl Prekopp
7 CDs, 8.5 hours
Nathan lives a brutal existence, locked in a cage, beaten by his caretaker, deprived of everything that most people take for granted. His cartaker’s brutal training is to turn him into a killer, for the Council of White Witches.
Nathan’s mother was a white witch, and his father was a black witch. He knows neither of them…his mother died when he was a baby, and his father is an outlaw on the run. Nathan was brought up by his Gran with his older half-siblings, Jessica, Deborah and Arran. Gran, Deborah and Arran love him, but Jessica has always hated him, to the point where she sabotages everything he has ever loved.
In Nathan’s world, white witches are good and black witches are bad. His father Marcus is the worst, most violent of the black witches. It’s rumored that Marcus has killed over two hundred white witches, eating their hearts to steal their powers. In this alternate version of modern-day England, there is no such thing as a half-good or a half-bad witch. Nathan has spent his life under close scrutiny, every witch he knows watching to see if he’s good or bad. They will wait until his sixteenth birthday to decide; the time where every witch is given three gifts by their nearest blood relative and discover their powers.
But the Council didn’t give Nathan much leeway. They’re not planning on giving him the chance to get any powers. He’s spent three years locked in the cage to keep him from Gran, and no one even knows where his father is. With his sixteenth birthday only weeks away, Nathan’s only chance to save himself is to escape, find his father, and persuade Marcus to give Nathan his blood gifts. It won’t be easy. But if Nathan can do it, he may be able to survive.
Half Bad is an intense, gritty book, not for the squeamish. The scenes of Nathan’s life in the cage are gut-wrenching. But it also is a story of a boy who is struggling to find his place in the world, living up to the expectations of the wonderful woman who raised him and loved him.
The narration of Half Bad is compelling and tense. It ends on a real cliffhanger–Half Bad is the first book of a trilogy. The second book, Half Wild, is coming out in the spring of 2015, and the third probably in 2016. Even though it’s a long time to wait, Nathan’s story is too unique to wait to read. Both the print and audio book of Half Bad are best or readers in high school and older. But if you try it, you’re sure to come back for more of Nathan’s story.
* * *
And…that’s it! Three more audio books to enjoy! As always, if you want suggestions, ask a librarian!