Flash Reviews (13)–Audiobooks Edition

As always, thank you for the Flash Reviews idea, GreenBeanTeenQueen!

Since January my reading as been in a general slump because I’ve been overwhelmed with work, my Masters, and health stuff.  In April I decided to give audiobooks a try and can’t believe I didn’t start listening to them sooner!  I’ve created an Audible account and now listen to audiobooks while I’m getting ready for work, driving to and from work, sometimes during my lunch at work, while I’m cooking, etc.  It makes me feel SO PRODUCTIVE to be “reading” while I’m doing all of these things because those are all of the things that distract me from reading.  I’ve even wanted to start walking more so I can listen to my audiobook of the moment since I have the Audible app on my phone.  Anyway, since I’ve listened to a few already I decided to try some flash reviews since I’ve never tried writing a full review of an audiobook before.

Title: Drums, Girls, & Dangerous Pie

Author: Jordan Sonnenblick

Narrator: Joel Johnstone

Summary (From Goodreads): Thirteen-year-old Steven has a totally normal life: he plays drums in the All-Star Jazz band, has a crush on the hottest girl in the school, and is constantly annoyed by his five-year-old brother, Jeffrey.  But when Jeffrey is diagnosed with leukemia, Steven’s world is turned upside down. He is forced to deal with his brother’s illness and his parents’ attempts to keep the family in one piece.

Salted with humor and peppered with devastating realities, Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie is a heartwarming journey through a year in the life of a family in crisis.

Flash Review: I listened to this during my spring break in April because my whole reading plan went down the drain when my grandpa decided to go off the vent he’d been on for a month.  I posted about this during that week after he died, but the reason I decided to listen to an audiobook during this time was that I still wanted to accomplish something even though I was spending four hours in the car driving back and fourth across the state to see him and be with family and go to the funeral.  It’s not exactly the happiest memory attached to this book, but regardless of all that Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie is a fantastic book to listen to in audio.  Again, it probably wasn’t the best choice to start with because it’s sad considering Steven’s little brother Jeffrey gets cancer, so I spent a lot of those four hours driving and crying and being all weepy (not so great to do while driving), but I also laughed and was able to take my mind off what was going on.  Joel Johnstone is a really talented narrator.  He does a great job switching voices, adding emotion to what he’s reading, etc.  He’s just about everything you could look for in an audiobook narrator.

The story itself is wonderful.  Steven is going through a tough time trying to understand the severity of his brother’s condition, and it’s not helping that his mom is almost always gone with Jeffrey and his dad isn’t talking to him about much of anything.  Steven’s grades start to suffer, and he begins to feel angry and depressed and confused.  I was able to relate to Steven because I often felt the same way when my dad was in the hospital with Leukemia, but I was in college at the time and understood how serious it was (thankfully my dad’s now cancer free!).  Jordan Sonnenblick has a firm grip on how teens think and act which shows in his writing.  I not only recommend listening to the audio, but adding the book to your library or class library as well if that applies to you.

5/5 stars for this audiobook!

Title: Beautiful Chaos

Author: Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Narrator: Kevin T. Collins

Summary (From Goodreads): Ethan Wate thought he was getting used to the strange, impossible events happening in Gatlin, his small Southern town. But now that Ethan and Lena have returned home, strange and impossible have taken on new meanings. Swarms of locusts, record-breaking heat, and devastating storms ravage Gatlin as Ethan and Lena struggle to understand the impact of Lena’s Claiming. Even Lena’s family of powerful Supernaturals is affected – and their abilities begin to dangerously misfire. As time passes, one question becomes clear: What – or who – will need to be sacrificed to save Gatlin?

For Ethan, the chaos is a frightening but welcome distraction. He’s being haunted in his dreams again, but this time it isn’t by Lena – and whatever is haunting him is following him out of his dreams and into his everyday life. Even worse, Ethan is gradually losing pieces of himself – forgetting names, phone numbers, even memories. He doesn’t know why, and most days he’s too afraid to ask.

Sometimes there isn’t just one answer or one choice. Sometimes there’s no going back. And this time there won’t be a happy ending.

Flash Review: This series never lets me down and Beautiful Chaos is no different.  In the fall I bought my copy as soon as it released, but while I was reading it I got distracted and set it down.  The problem though is that I never picked it back up.  Once I started listening to audiobooks I remembered that I wanted to finish reading Beautiful Chaos and sampled the audio.  I liked it right away, but I had no idea what I was in for just by listening to the sample!  Basically, after listening to this in audio I will only listen to the audio when book four releases.  It is awesome!  First of all, Kevin T. Collins is the perfect narrator for Ethan.  He uses his southern drawl and switches between all of the characters flawlessly.  The only voice that didn’t work for me was when he was reading Liv’s parts.  His British girl voice just didn’t cut it, but it did make me giggle.  Other than that he’s really impressive.  Plus, the audio plays background music during Ethan and Lena’s flashbacks, and we get to hear the Sixteen Moons (which has since changed for this book to Eighteen Moons) song.  I can’t sing the praises enough for Beautiful Chaos in audio.

The Beautiful Creatures series continues to be fantastic.  I love Link now as Linkubus and getting to know other characters more like Ridley and Amma.  So many secrets are uncovered about Lena’s family that my head was spinning.  Plus the ending completely blew my mind.  I had to rewind the audio and listen again because I couldn’t believe what happened.

4/5 stars for this audiobook

Title: Marcelo in the Real World

Author: Francisco X. Stork

Narrator: Lincoln Hoppe

Summary (From Goodreads): Marcelo Sandoval hears music that nobody else can hear–part of an autism-like condition that no doctor has been able to identify. But his father has never fully believed in the music or Marcelo’s differences, and he challenges Marcelo to work in the mailroom of his law firm for the summer. . . to join “the real world.”

There Marcelo meets Jasmine, his beautiful and surprising coworker, and Wendell, the son of another partner in the firm. He learns about competition and jealousy, anger and desire. But it’s a picture he finds in a file–a picture of a girl with half a face–that truly connects him with the real world: its suffering, its injustice, and what he can do to fight.

Reminiscent of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time in the intensity and purity of its voice, this extraordinary audiobook is a love story, a legal drama, and a celebration of the music each of us hears inside.

Flash Review: I’m a little torn over this audiobook.  The story itself is beautiful, but the narrator isn’t all that impressive.  His voice is kind of monotonous and he doesn’t do a very good job changing his voice for different characters.  I also had a difficult time distinguishing when Marcelo is thinking something and saying something because there isn’t enough inflection in Lincoln Hoppe’s voice in some of those parts.  Despite those flaws, I was still able to continue listening to the audio because the story is so strong.

I listened to Marcelo in the Real World because we’re using it this year with our To Kill a Mockingbird YA connection unit.  I’m extremely happy we decided on this book because it will tie in nicely.  Just like many characters in To Kill a Mockingbird are misunderstood and judged, Marcelo and other characters are judged and misunderstood also.  Marcelo is very endearing and seeing him lose his innocence about the world was heartbreaking at times.  The characterization is strong in Marcelo in the Real World as well as the writing; it’s an excellent example of literary contemporary fiction.

4/5 stars for this audiobook


  1. Welcome to the world of audio books! I’ve been an addict for about 27 years now. Love reading with my ears!

    I reread Drums with my ears and didn’t love the narrator. It grew on me though as it is/ was assigned to eighth grade at my present and previous schools, so I’ve read the book about 5 or 6 times.

    I thought my tepid feelings might be due to the fact that I’d read the book with my eyes first, and therefore had a “voice” in my head. Not so. I read the arc of Drums’ sequel After Ever After, adored it, then went gaga over Nick Podehl’s performance.

    I get what you’re saying about Marcello. I happen to like Lincoln Hoppe though and enjoyed his interpretation of the work.


  2. I abandoned Marcello in the Real World because I couldn’t take the audiobook narrator. One of these days I will try the regular book rather than judging it by its audiobook.

I love comments!

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