Monday, July 22, 2019

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James

Have you ever picked up a book, started reading, and found yourself unable to put the book down?  That was me this weekend with The Loneliest Girl in the Universe.  I solely picked this book out to read as it had the word “universe” in the title and I needed a book that met that criterion for the Kewaunee Library Adult Summer Reading Challenge.  I was pleasantly surprised on how much I loved this novel.

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe is a young adult sci-fi novel with a female protagonist.  As a female sci-fi fan – I loved this!  Romy Silvers was the first baby born in space.  Her parents were the caretakers of The Infinity, ship that NASA has sent out to find a new world and repopulate it as Earth II.  Things did not go as planned and now Romy is by herself on the spaceship trying to navigate life as a lonely teenager.  Life looks like it will be getting better when Romy discovers that a new ship, The Eternity, is speeding towards her much faster than her ship with newer technology.  When the two ships meet, Romy will finally have someone to talk to, and it will be a young man at that.  As Romy and J get to know each other through messaging between their ships, Romy finds herself falling in love.  At the same time communications from Earth and trouble with her ship has left Romy wondering if their two ships will meet in time.  Will Romy finally not be the loneliest girl in the universe? Why does Romy have nightmares about dead astronauts floating outside the ship?  What happened to Romy’s parents?

I don’t want to give too much more of the plot away – but it was a fast moving novel.  I was entranced wanting to know what had happened to Romy’s parents and the rest of the astronauts on the ship as well as what was happening with current events.  I loved how the novel was written to keep giving away tidbits to get us closer to the conclusion.  I also love that Romy had trauma in her life, but she was working on getting through it with the help of a therapist from earth.

Overall, The Loneliest Girl in the Universe is a fast paced sci-fi novel that finally puts a teenage girl as the hero of her own adventure.  I loved it!

Book Source:  Kewaunee Public Library – Thanks!

Friday, July 19, 2019

The Littlest Bigfoot by Jennifer Weiner

Title: The Littlest Bigfoot
Author: Jennifer Weiner
Read by:  Emma Galvin, Keith Nobbs, & Jen Ponton
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Length: Approximately 6 hours and 41 minutes
Source: Review Copy from Simon & Schuster Audio.  Thank-you!

My eight-year old daughter, Penelope, and I have been enjoying listening to The Littlest Bigfoot together whenever we are in the car with just the two of us.  We started this audiobook on a trip to Chicago in March and finished it on a trip to Girl Scout camp at the beginning of July. The Littlest Bigfoot is a middle grade reader book that is both contemporary and fantasy.  It is a great novel about fitting in and bullying.

Alice Mayfair is a twelve year old girl that has always felt different and outside of her family.  Her mother is a beautiful, skinny, rich woman in New York City and doesn’t know what to do with Alice who is large and doesn’t like to follow the rules. Alice’s parents send her to a string of boarding schools and she is always alone and picked on.  Alice is sent to a new hippy type school, “The Experimental Center of Love and Learning” where she tries hard to fit in with the popular crowd, until one day, she finds herself picked on and on the outside again.  That is until she rescues a drowning girl named Millie from the lake. 

Millie also feels left out in her world.  She belongs to a tribe of Yare (Bigfoot), but she is small in stature and has rare silver fur.  Her parents are very protective.  Millie longs to join the “no fur” world and become a singer.  When she meets Alice, she finally starts to feel like she may belong.

Jeremy is an outcast who lives in a nearby town.  His obsession is finding a Bigfoot.  When he starts to uncover information that there could be a Bigfoot at the strange experimental school outside of town, he starts a process of fear that threatens to overwhelm the school and expose the Yare tribe.  Will Jeremy succeed?

Penelope and I both really enjoyed this tale.  Penelope in particular really liked the theme of accepting everyone no matter what they look like.  She’s started to see bullying happen in ways at childcare and school and this was a great book to discuss with her.  She was very struck as well on how Alice’s parents did not treat her well and it made her very sad.

The novel was narrated by the three main characters.  The audiobook had three different narrators to match each point of view which Penelope and I both enjoyed.  Penelope’s only complaint about the audiobook was that she wished when Jeremy talked in Alice’s chapter that it would have been in his voice.

Overall, The Littlest Bigfoot was an enjoyable audiobook for both child and adult with a unique story and good moral about bullying.  The surprise at the end has us ready to start the second book!

Fairy Mom and Me by Sophie Kinsella

Title: Fairy Mom and Me
Author: Sophie Kinsella
Read by:  Cassandra Morris
Publisher: Books On Tape Listening Library
Length: Approximately 1 hour and 23 minutes
Source: Kewaunee Public Library.  Thank-you!

We listened to Fairy Mom and Me as a family on a recent trip for the family read together summer library challenge.  This was one of the six books you could select and read as a family.  With three kids ages 13, 11, and 8 – it is much easier to listen to the audiobooks in the car where we were all in the same place at the same time.

My eight year old daughter enjoyed Fairy Mom and Me, but the rest of the family did not.  There wasn’t much of a plot and it was very repetitive.  Basically Ella’s Mom is a fairy and has a computerized wand.  She is constantly messing up spells and then things have to get fixed.  Ella also has a bit of a bullying situation going on. As 11 year old Daniel said, he didn’t understand why she kept messing up the spells as they were very intuitive and basic.

Cassandra Morris was a good narrator with a pleasing voice. There was a nice list of discussion questions at the end of the audiobook.  We would have discussed them, but all of us were so happy the book was over we didn’t do any discussion. 

I would recommend this book to those with kids eight years old or younger.  It is not entertaining for the entire family as other audiobooks are (especially Roald Dahl books).

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Sylvester by Georgette Heyer

Title: Sylvester
Author: Georgette Heyer
Read by:  Nicholas Rowe
Publisher: Naxos Audiobooks
Length: Approximately 10 hours and 59minutes
Source: Birthday Present from my Best Friend Jenn.  Thank-you!

Phoebe Marlow has a dream of becoming a novelist.  After a season in London, Phoebe uses the people she has met to write a thrilling novel featuring the arrogant Sylvester, Duke of Salford, and his distinctive eyebrows.  Phoebe does not think she’ll ever see the Duke again, but much to her horror he shows up at her family estate to determine whether she would make him a suitable bride.  He does not even remember that he had met her before and found her dull at their first meeting.  Their second meeting does not go well and they are soon off on a mad cap adventure.  Will Phoebe be able to stop her book from being published before it exposes the Duke to ridicule?  Will Sylvester be able to put aside his first impressions and snobbery to get to know people outside his circle?

Sylvester is truly a delight and made me laugh.  Nicolas Howe was a great narrator and I really enjoyed listening to this one on my work commute.  He did a good job of trying to give the characters different voices. Work was being stressful and this audiobook was a great way to unwind.  As a fan of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, I loved the regency setting of this novel and that the storyline which was about pride, prejudice, and first impressions seemed to echo the theme.  Sylvester is every bit as snobby as Mr. Darcy, but has a great turn around and reassessment of his own character as well.  Phoebe is delightfully independent and also has her own first impressions challenged in the novel as well. 

Heyer did a lot of research to get the details of the Regency period correct and I love those details.  The slang used by characters, the terminology for the type of dress and type of vehicle they drove is all spot on. I loved it.

Overall, Sylvester is a wonderful historical fiction novel full of wit and humor.  I highly recommend it to Jane Austen fans looking for something more.

Back to the Classics Book Club: Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

I started a new classics book club at my local library with my friend Barb. We meet quarterly and chose for our first book, a favorite of us both, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.  Our meeting in April went very well with a lively discussion.  There were only four of us there – hopefully we will have more attendees at our next meeting next week.

To prepare for the meeting, I made a poster board with pictures of the different actors that played Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth to use during discussion. Barb and I put together an agenda and list of discussion questions beforehand.  We started with an icebreaker, a discussion of what was going on in history when Pride and Prejudice was published, a discussion of some of the customs of the day, and then went into questions.  We also had a quiz with a prize at the end – but we ran out of time. I also had brought a bag of my favorite Pride and Prejudice variations, modernizations, etc. to discuss, but we ran out of time for that as well.

I prepared by listening to the audiobook version of Pride and Prejudice that is narrated by Alison Larkin.  I have reviewed it before on my blog at this link.  I enjoyed listening to it again as usual.  Larkin has a delightful voice with a slight English accent and is a wonderful narrator. I also watched the 1995 miniseries with my eight year old daughter Penelope.  She ended up providing a question for discussion with her assessment of Mr. Wickham.  As he and Lydia drove away from Longbourn at the end, Penelope said, “He isn’t going to stayed married to Lydia.  He is just going to run away with another fifteen year old girl.”  I thought that was a pretty astute observation from an eight-year old girl!

Have you every hosted a book club where you discussed Pride and Prejudice?  How did it go and how did you plan your meeting?