Flash Reviews (14)–Audiobooks Edition

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

If it weren’t for audiobooks, I wouldn’t have ended the school year having read 81 books (I originally thought it was 80 but forgot about a graphic novel).  I took on a lot of extra work including writing a couple grants, preparing to teach a brand new class in a fall plus a class I’ve never taught before, and more.  So yeah, audiobooks rock because I can “read” while I’m trying to do lots of other time consuming things.

Title: Dairy Queen

Author: Catherine Gilbert Murdoch

Narrator: Natalie Moore

Summary (From Goodreads): When you don’t talk, there’s a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said.

Harsh words indeed, from Brian Nelson of all people. But, D.J. can’t help admitting, maybe he’s right.

When you don’t talk, there’s a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said.

Stuff like why her best friend, Amber, isn’t so friendly anymore. Or why her little brother, Curtis, never opens his mouth. Why her mom has two jobs and a big secret. Why her college-football-star brothers won’t even call home. Why her dad would go ballistic if she tried out for the high school football team herself. And why Brian is so, so out of her league.

When you don’t talk, there’s a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said.

Welcome to the summer that fifteen-year-old D.J. Schwenk of Red Bend, Wisconsin, learns to talk, and ends up having an awful lot of stuff to say.

Flash Review: After a number of high recommendations from friends, and listening to the sample on Audible, I knew I had to listen to Dairy Queen.  What I’m discovering as I continue to listen to audiobooks, is that so many narrators can make or break the book.  In this case, Natalie Moore made this book.  She is D.J. whether I continue to listen on audio or pick the book up to read.  As I’m sitting here typing this review I can hear D.J. voice perfectly.  I haven’t listened to as many audiobooks as others, but so far Natalie Moore is the best narrator I’ve heard.  She used a Wisconsin accent and everything when reading Dairy Queen!  Even better, she never strayed and spoke as other characters when she wasn’t supposed to.  That’s something that impresses me, especially during scenes with a lot of dialogue.  Since finishing Dairy Queen I’ve listened to the second book The Off Season and I plan on listening to the third book, Front and Center.  If you’re new to audiobooks, starting with Dairy Queen is an excellent choice!  If you love listening to audiobooks and haven’t read Dairy Queen yet, then listening to this one next is an excellent choice!

One of things I love best about Dairy Queen is that not only is the audio awesome, the story is too.  D.J. doesn’t think of herself as especially pretty, smart, or special in any way.  She’s a Schwenk dairy farmer and that’s pretty much it.  Her brothers are the ones that are special because they’re away playing college football.  D.J. begins to think differently of herself when Brian Nelson, a rival high school football player, comes to work on their farm.  He needs a better work ethic and as D.J. spends more time with him, she’s forced to think of herself differently.  Is she just a cow doing what’s expected of her, or is she going to stand out and do what she really wants?  Spending more time with Brian also helps D.J. realize that maybe she needs to be a better communicator, something she and her family don’t practice enough.  Dairy Queen is an excellent contemporary novel about the importance of family and following your heart’s desire, whether it’s love or football or both.

Title: Out of the Pocket

Author: Bill Konigsberg

Narrator: Joshua Swanson

Summary (From Goodreads): Star quarterback Bobby Framingham, one of the most talented high school football players in California, knows he’s different from his teammates. They’re like brothers, but they don’t know one essential thing: Bobby is gay. Can he still be one of the guys and be honest about who he is? When he’s outed against his will by a student reporter, Bobby must find a way to earn back his teammates’ trust and accept that his path to success might be more public, and more difficult, than he’d hoped. An affecting novel about identity that also delivers great sports writing.

Joshua Swanson delivers a good performance in the audio for Out of the Pocket.  We offered this novel to our freshmen as part of our To Kill a Mockingbird YA connections unit which is why I decided to listen to the audio.  At the time I was swamped with other books to read, and considering the amount of driving I do to work and back, I figured this was a good way to read the book before the unit.  At times Swanson’s narration was a bit slow, but it wasn’t monotonous by any means.  His version of Carrie was also far from what I would have pictured, to the point of being ridiculous.  Besides those two points, the audio is engaging and entertaining.  I was engaged enough that at certain parts in the book I actually gasped at what characters said.  Out of the Pocket is a good choice whether you want to listen to it or physically read it.

Out of the Pocket will appeal to readers who are interested in contemporary fiction, sports fiction, and/or LGBT fiction.  Bill Konigsberg did a wonderful job writing a story that’s about identity, sports, friendship and family.  Bobby Framingham knows he’s gay, but he doesn’t know what to do about it or who to tell.  He doesn’t know if he should tell anyone because he doesn’t know of any openly gay athletes who aren’t retired from their sport.  Football is extremely important to Bobby, and it could land him a college scholarship, so telling someone he’s gay could put that scholarship in jeopardy.  Coming out is an important moment and Bobby wants to do it when the time’s right.  I liked Out of the Pocket because the characters are real and Bobby’s life isn’t sugar-coated, nor overly dramatized.  It was a good book for my freshmen to read because many of them don’t have friends who are gay (that they know of), and consequently they had some thoughtful discussions about the story and their connections to it.  Once they started reading Out of the Pocket, they understood the comparisons we (their teachers) made with To Kill a Mockingbird when deciding which books to use with the unit.  I didn’t really care about the scenes with football plays and all, but everything else about the story really worked for me as both a reader and as a teacher.


  1. I LOVE audiobooks, and I’ve been wanting to try Dairy Queen – thanks for the review

  2. I absolutely love Dairy Queen! DJ’s voice is done so well in the novel; I’m really curious about how she sounds in audiobook form – especially since I have no idea what a Wisconsin accent sounds like!

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