Audio Book Favorite

YOU’RE NEVER WEIRD ON THE INTERNET (ALMOST) by Felicia Day

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Before The Guild” and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, Felicia Day was an isolated, home schooled kid who discovered a community and her own voice on the then fledgling internet.  Her memoir goes beyond hilarious anecdotes from an unconventional childhood with the history of the Internet and online gaming from a user’s perspective, her experience with video game addiction, a glimpse into the life of an unknown actor trying to make it in LA, an account of creating a low budget Web series (“The Guild”), and her perspective on and experience with Gamergate.  A truly gifted writer, Day divides her memoir into semi-chronological sections by topic, giving each individual part its own arc in addition to the overall narrative arc of the memoir, which encourages readers to pursue their creative passions. 

I picked up this book as a Guild fan, thinking it would just be an interesting glimpse into Felicia Day’s life.  Instead I found one of the most interesting and entertaining memoirs I have ever read and a new audiobook favorite!  If you are not a Felicia Day fan already, the book may lack the “squee” factor it had for me, but if you are an Internet user who enjoys memoirs, you will probably still find her story engaging.  Definitely listen to the audiobook!

ODD THOMAS by Dean Koontz

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Odd can’t help it that the dead communicate with him.  They sense that he can see them, and often they tell him the stories of their deaths–which, for those spirits restless enough to stick around, were usually untimely and unpleasant. Odd is not a cop, and he has no desire to be. He is nothing more than the best short order cook in Pico Mundo. But sometimes he can’t help getting involved with apprehending a murderer or preventing a future crime. His gift just won’t allow it. And when a suspicious man comes to the diner surrounded by the shadowy spirits that usually gawk at mass-murder, Odd knows it is up to him to prevent an unthinkable tragedy, despite the warnings that his involvement may lead him down a path of incredible suffering.

Wow, was this novel great! It starts with a quick case to get you hooked and then moves into the slow-moving but incredibly suspenseful main plot. Do not mistake “slow-moving” for a negative qualifier. Odd is an unreliable narrator. He admits at the beginning that he is leaving out major details for the sake of the story. When he deviates from the main plot into quirky asides about particular ghosts, characters, the town, or himself, he both deepens the incredible character development and ramps up the suspense. In this case, the slow-broil is brilliant and ultimately very satisfying when so many little details come together in the end. And I have never read an adult mystery/thriller series with this level of character development. This is a new favorite for me!

I highly recommend the audiobook!

WOLF BROTHER by Michelle Paver

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Torak can remember the exact moment that his life changed.  He and Fa had been setting up camp, happy and laughing, when the bear exploded from the forest—the great demon bear that no hunter could destroy—and attacked Fa.  Numb with shock and grief, Torak swears to Fa’s dying request.  He will find the mountain of the World Spirit that no man has ever seen.  He will trust the guide that the spirits send him, whoever or whatever it may be.  And he will stay away from the clans, avoiding people at all costs, so that they do not hinder him.  He will fulfill his quest or die trying.

The guide is certainly not what Torak expected.  Almost as soon as Torak finds the orphaned wolf cub, he feels a connection between them.  Though he does not know how, Torak can communicate with the wolf, understanding his wolf speech and speaking back with grunts, whines, and growls.  Realizing that the wolf must be his guide, Torak follows the cub through the forest, hoping that the young wolf will lead him to the mountain of the World Spirit.  But Torak forgets his father’s hunting advice—“Look behind you, Torak”—and before his quest is fully underway, he is captured by hunters from the Raven clan.   Yet if he had not been captured, he never would have met Renn, learned about the prophecy, or discovered the secrets of his father’s past and the demon bear.  Now, Torak is more determined than ever to find the mountain of the World Spirit—but first he must escape the clutches of the Ravens. . . .

I cannot recommend this audiobook highly enough!  Sir Ian McKellen’s narration is phenomenal.  The story itself is dark, suspenseful, and very exciting.  It has all of the story elements you could ask for: action, mystery, complex and evolving characters, friendships and rivalries, puzzles to solve, and evil to defeat.  I especially recommend this book to readers who enjoy historical fiction and/or high fantasy and to dog lovers. Wolf Brother is the first in the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series.

If you liked Wolf Brother, you might like The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins, Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner, Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George, or Dreamwood by Heather Mackey.

THE GRAVEYARD BOOK by Neil Gaiman

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The man Jack had always completed his assignments thoroughly and efficiently.  His knife dispatched the man, the woman, and the little girl before even a scream could pass their lips.  So it comes as a great surprise to him when he discovers that the toddler has somehow escaped into the night.  The man Jack follows the little boy’s scent up the hill and into the graveyard, but there he loses the trail as a mysterious, black-velvet-clad man named Silas escorts him from the graveyard, persuading him that he never saw the child there in the first place.  The inhabitants of the graveyard, the ghosts of all of those laid to rest within its gates over the centuries, offer the child their protection.  The ghosts Master and Mistress Owens adopt the child, whom they name Nobody (Bod), and Silas, who is neither living nor dead and can therefore leave the graveyard to procure food for the child, agrees to be his guardian.  Bod is given the freedom of the graveyard, seeing as the dead see, moving through walls, fading into shadow, and exploring worlds on the border between life and death.  He grows up safe inside the graveyard, but outside its gates, the man Jack has not abandoned his search for child.

The Graveyard Book won the 2009 Newbery Medal, which is somewhat surprising given the book’s subject matter–the dark, fantastical world stands out from typical Newbery winners–but fully deserved.  Gaiman builds a vivid world in the graveyard and explores themes of life, death, family and friendship, love and loyalty, identity, and morality.  He weaves these themes into his brilliantly imagined storyline, which keeps readers engaged in characters and plot from beginning to end.  Fair warning: you will reach a point in the story where you will become unable to put this book down.  Plan your time accordingly.

I highly recommed this book for upper elementary, teen, and adult readers who can handle dark fantasy and murder mysteries. I also cannot recommend highly enough Neil Gaiman’s audio book performance of this book!  It is one of my top two favorite audiobooks of all time–an absolutely stunning performance.  It is great to listen to, whether you are experiencing the book for the first time or reading it again.  You should definitely check the audio book out!