The Best Audiobooks ever…

Alright, I’m quite a bit late today, but it’s been a little crazy this week at work. My aide took two days off and on Friday, I was pulled to sub internally all day. So, things have been a little hectic.

Anyways, I’ve listened to quite a few audiobooks. Last year, I spent a few months commuting about 3 hours a day. Now, my favorite book series just ended up being my favorite audiobook series. I had read the Bloody Jack series via regular book and loved them. So when a friend on Goodreads suggested the audios, I had to give them a whirl.

I’m completely convinced now that these are the best books to listen to ever.

Katherine Kellgren, the narrator does a perfect job of Jacky and when she switches characters, she’s still brilliant. I think she totally nails these books and if you’ve never tried audiobooks before, you should start with these. I find myself making excuses to drive around more or clean more or jog more just to listen to these books.

Have you read these?

What are some other audiobooks you think are outstanding?

A few more on my list include I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak, The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, and The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman.

Royal Reads

I can hardly believe that the Royal Wedding was over a week ago! (And before you ask, yes I was someone who got up to watch the whole pre-wedding coverage, wedding, after-wedding coverage and then went to work a full day on three hours of sleep.)

Now, I blame my grandma for my interest in the royal family. But I can safely blame Meg Cabot for interest in princess books. And because there are such a plethora of great books to choose from, in the weeks before the wedding I did a mini read-a-thon of nothing but royal reads. Here’s a mini-booklist, complete with mini-reviews.

“Princess of Glass” by Jessica Day George. (2011)

This is a sequel to “Princess of the Midnight Ball” which was released last year around this time. I immediately picked up the first book because it was a re-telling of my favorite (little known) fairy tale, “The Twelve Dancing Princesses.” George’s first novel followed the eldest sister Rose throughout the book. In a clever move, George writes her second book with a new fairy tale in mind — Cinderella — and a new main character, the second eldest sister, Poppy.

As much as I liked Rose in the first novel, I have to say that I liked Poppy more. She’s feisty! And I thought that the elements that George choose to weave in from the traditional Cinderella story were perfect ways to remain faithful to the old tale while adding in new material. Overall, this is a series that I would very much like to see continued, all the way through all 12 princesses as main characters.

“Princess for Hire” and “The Royal Treatment” by Lindsey Leavitt. (2010, 2011)

This adorable series follows Desi Bascomb, a small-town girl from Idaho, who is dealing with her fair share of frustrations: an unrequited crush, a horrible ex-best friend tormenting her, and much worse — her job at the local pet store requires dressing in a groundhog costume…in public. But when Desi reads an advertisement about being a substitute princess, her troubles are about to get even more complicated than they already are.

I absolutely adore this series. I think Desi is a fully rounded character, and is so sweet and endearing that readers will naturally root for her and her decisions. I don’t want to say much about the sequel and ruin the ride for everyone, but needless to say, Desi’s journey includes romance, secrets, royalty, and one wild ride! My one sadness is that I now must wait for the next book in the series. (And I sure hope that there is a next book SOON.)

“The False Princess” by Eilis O’Neal. (2011)

Nalia has been raised her whole life as a princess — trained in all manners of royal history, business, languages, and proper curtsying. So you can imagine her surprise when after her sixteenth birthday, her parents call her into the throne room to reveal that her name isn’t Nalia and she isn’t a princess. Cinda — her true name — was only place on the throne to prevent the real princess from being killed. Now cast out of the palace, Cinda must find out who she truly is and where her place is in life.

This book really surprised me! I picked it up off our new books shelf in the library on a whim, and have been book-talking it to my teens even since. I thought that it was clever, well-written, and had a heroine that I really fell for. Cinda is so confused and hurt at first, but grows so much throughout the novel. Her determination really stood out, and was such a pleasure to see further develop from thoughts to real action by the end of the book. I will definitely be looking out for O’Neal’s next book.

And of course, a list for you of princess books that I’ve already read before this week (some I’ve read years and years ago) and loved!

“The Princess Diaries” by Meg Cabot. (2000)
Ordinary Mia Thermopolis discovers that she is actually the only heir to the Genovian throne and not a contemporary American teenager like she thought.

“Entwined” by Heather Dixon. (2011)
Azalea discovers a way to take her and her sister’s minds off her mother’s death — a magic passageway into another world, a world filled with dancing. Another retelling of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses.” (Told you it was one of my favorites!)

“A Kiss In Time” by Alex Flinn. (2009)
Talia is awoken from her 300-year sleep by modern-day Jack who now must save her from the witch that cursed her so many years ago.

“Dragonfly” by Julia Golding. (2009)
Princess Tashi is horrified when she is ordered to marry Prince Ramil, but when the two are kidnapped they are forced to try to put aside their differences to escape.

“Ella Enchanted” by Gail Caron Levine. (1997)
Ella is cursed to be obedient by a fairy godmother, and after her mother dies, she sets off to try and remove the curse.

Any book by Tamora Pierce. (“Alanna,” 1983)
All of Pierce’s books (in both the Tortall series and the Emelan books) have princesses and princes. I adore these books and have been reading them since I was a very small teenager.

And that’s not even counting all the brilliant fairy tale re-tellings (like “Ice” by Sarah Beth Durst; “Ash” by Malinda Lo; “Sisters Red” by Jackson Pearce; etc.) that don’t necessarily have princesses in them, but satisfy me all the same!

But tell me — what did I miss? (Please, I’m on a reading roll and I’d like to keep it that way!)

Graphic Novels!

If you’re not familiar with me, you probably don’t know how much I love graphic novels – for myself, for my students, for anyone really. What you may not know is the crazy wide variety that is out there.

When I began my Library Media Specialist job two years ago, the first thing I saw was a lack of graphic novels. I began to remedy that. I’ve been a big supporter of graphic novels, especially for the struggling reader, when I began the last two years of my undergraduate degree in Elementary Education.

I was working at a public library at the time and ended up raiding their graphic novels and other libraries to find what was out there for kids these days.

Some major things that I look for when I’m purchasing graphic novels is the age-appropriateness for my elementary school. I have not purchased any Manga – the Japanese form of graphic novels that are gaining popularity every day – because they can be randomly inappropriate for my 2nd – 5th graders.

So what do I buy? Here are some series that I’ve bought that do not stay on the shelf – ever.

Babymouse by Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm

Both my male and female students cannot resist the awesomeness that is Babymouse. I have 2 copies of each of the 13 volumes and I’m lucky if there’s more than one the shelf at the same time. This follows a mouse named Babymouse as she daydreams through school. The whole graphic novel is colored in only black, white, and pink. She loves pink cupcakes and her daydreams go from being a rock star to even a race car driver.

I had the good fortunate of meeting the siblings who write this fantastic graphic novel series at ALA two years ago and they were as fun as Babymouse herself.

Lunch Lady by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

This fantastic series stars Lunch Lady as it’s super hero. She fights evil cyborg substitutes, stop evil librarians from stealing game consoles and much much more. She uses a variety of awesome weapons like – a spatula that turns into a mini-copter, milk-cam, lunch-tray laptop, mole communicator that goes to a Spork Phone, rubber glove suction cups, cannoli-oculars, chicken nugget bombs, fish stick nunchucks, hairnet net, and an electronic bananarang. Just what you need – a lunch lady who fights evil. 🙂

Stone Rabbit by Eric Craddock

This series is about a rabbit who lives in a boring town and somehow manages to go on all sorts of crazy adventures – from a Jurassic journey to pirates and even outer space. This is a great series for those struggling boy readers who need something fun to read.



Fashion Kitty by Charise Mericle Harper

Fashion Kitty is a series about a kitty named Kiki who turns into Fashion Kitty whenever there is a fashion crisis about to happen. She swoops in and saves the day and makes everyone happy! She can even fly!

This series is a huge hit with my girls.

And there’s so many more out there, but those are some of the big hits with my students. I’ll probably talk about nonfiction graphic novels some other time – there’s so much I could talk about graphic novels! They really are fantastic.

Here’s a great article about Graphic Novels for (Really) Young Readers from School Library Journal. They also touch on some of the other graphic novels that I have in my library.

What do you guys think about graphic novels?