Author: Patricia McCormick
Genre: YA contemporary fiction
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Free download from Sync
Audiobook reader: Justine Eyre
Audiobook length: 3 hours and 44 minutes
First line: One more rainy season and our roof will be gone, says Ama.
Goodreads blurb: Lakshmi is a thirteen-year-old girl who lives with her family in a small hut on a mountain in Nepal. Though she is desperately poor, her life is full of simple pleasures, like playing hopscotch with her best friend from school, and having her mother brush her hair by the light of an oil lamp. But when the harsh Himalayan monsoons wash away all that remains of the family’s crops, Lakshmi’s stepfather says she must leave home and take a job to support her family.
He introduces her to a glamorous stranger who tells her she will find her a job as a maid in the city. Glad to be able to help, Lakshmi journeys to India and arrives at “Happiness House” full of hope. But she soon learns the unthinkable truth: she has been sold into prostitution.
An old woman named Mumtaz rules the brothel with cruelty and cunning. She tells Lakshmi that she is trapped there until she can pay off her family’s debt—then cheats Lakshmi of her meager earnings so that she can never leave.
Lakshmi’s life becomes a nightmare from which she cannot escape. Still, she lives by her mother’s words— Simply to endure is to triumph—and gradually, she forms friendships with the other girls that enable her to survive in this terrifying new world. Then the day comes when she must make a decision—will she risk everything for a chance to reclaim her life?
This is a brilliant, but difficult and heartbreaking book. The subject matter is not easy, and something about hearing it in Lakshmi’s voice, over audio, make it even more realistic. And, that of course, is thanks to the amazing narration by Justine Eyre. I have listened to her work before, and after hearing her read Lakshmi’s story, I can honestly say I have no idea what nationality she is! She became Lakshmi, and I often felt as if I was listening to a true story, not fiction.
Title: The Raven Boys
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: YA paranormal fiction
Publisher: Scholastic Audio
Rating: 5 out of stars
Source: Audiobook download from Audiobook Sync
Audiobook reader: Will Patton
Audiobook length: 11 hours and 8 minutes
First line: Blue Sargent had forgotten how many times she’d been told that she would kill her true love.
Goodreads blurb: It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.
Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.
His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.
But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.
For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.
Wow. This book is one of the best YA novels I’ve read in a long, long time, and I can NOT wait to listen to book two, which I downloaded from Audible. It is so rare to find a YA paranormal series that is original, one that I don’t find myself thinking, “Oh, they got that from this series or that series.” as I read. The premise is fantastic, the characters grabbed me, and Will Patton, whose work on screen I have loved for years, is an amazing narrator.
Title: The Last Runaway
Author: Tracy Chevalier
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Audiobook from the public library
Audiobook reader: Kate Reading
Audiobook length: 9 hours and 51 minutes
First line: She could not go back.
Goodreads blurb: In New York Times bestselling author Tracy Chevalier’s newest historical saga, she introduces Honor Bright, a modest English Quaker who moves to Ohio in 1850, only to find herself alienated and alone in a strange land. Sick from the moment she leaves England, and fleeing personal disappointment, she is forced by family tragedy to rely on strangers in a harsh, unfamiliar landscape.
Nineteenth-century America is practical, precarious, and unsentimental, and scarred by the continuing injustice of slavery. In her new home Honor discovers that principles count for little, even within a religious community meant to be committed to human equality.
However, drawn into the clandestine activities of the Underground Railroad, a network helping runaway slaves escape to freedom, Honor befriends two surprising women who embody the remarkable power of defiance. Eventually she must decide if she too can act on what she believes in, whatever the personal costs.
It has been a good few weeks for audiobooks in my reading world! Another fantastic story, read by a perfect narrator. So much of whether or not an audiobook works for me is the synchronicity between the material and the reader. Kate Reading has just the right tone of hesitance and quietness as she reads Honor Bright’s story. This is not new historical material, and yet was able to bring something to my attention about the Fugitive Slave Act that I was previously unaware of. I have enjoyed Chevalier’s work in the past (Burning Bright and Remarkable Creatures), and this one did not disappoint.