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My Audiobook Year!

25 Jun

This week is Audiobook Week at Devourer of Books! If you’re excited about audiobooks, be sure to stop on over there this week for discussions on all sorts of audiobook-y topics from qualities of a stand-out narrator to where to find great audiobook suggestions! Today’s discussion topic is centered on our Audiobook Year:

    Are you new to audiobooks in the last year? Have you been listening to them forever but discovered something new this year? Favorite titles? New times/places to listen?

So without further ado…

I’ve been an avid audiobook listener for the past five years. As a kid, I couldn’t stand them. I’d listen to portions of them from time to time while getting a lift somewhere from my mom (thanks for the lift by the way!) and often found the stories boring or the narrator’s voice grating. But then I grew up and found myself with 2 hours a day of commuting time and some award-winning audiobooks (Jim Dale, Harry Potter series) to keep my company.

How I listen to audiobooks has changed significantly over the past few years. Originally I only listened to books on CD while in my car commuting to work. Now that I no longer have a commute (unless you count my five minute walk to the library), I’m more likely to listen while gardening, cooking, or doing some mindless household chore. Because gardening is a major audio listening activity for me, the late-spring/summer/early-fall are my most active audio listening times of year. I now listen almost exclusively to downloaded audio, primarily purchased through Audible. I’m fairly obsessed with the Audible app and its speed settings (helps pick up the pace when you have a slow reader). With the loss of 2 hours of commuting time each day (not the biggest “loss” in the world!), I’m definitely not listening to audiobooks quite as much as I once did. But I’m still a huge audiobook fan and here are some of my top listens from the past year!

Cracked Up To Be by Courtney Summers
Read by Khristine Hvam
St. Martin’s Griffin and Brilliance Audio

The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder
Read by Emma Galvin
Razorbill and Penguin Audio

The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon
Read by Dion Graham
Aladdin and Brilliance Audio

Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Read by Natalie Moore
Houghton Mifflin Company and Random House Audio

The Knife of Never Letting Go and The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness
Read by Nick Podehl (both) and Angela Dawe (TAatA)
Candlewick Press and Brilliance Audio

Room by Emma Donoghue
Read by Michal Friedman
, Ellen Archer, Robert Petkoff, and Suzanne Toren
Little, Brown and Company and Hachette Audio

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
Read by Debra Monk
Reagan Arthur Books and Recorded Books

Have you listened to any of these titles? Or heard other audio that you would suggest read by these narrators? What are some of your favorite listens from the past year?

Team Sisters!

23 Jun

Ah sisters. I have one. She’s great.* Sisters is the theme with the current contemporary+classic pair of free summer downloads from SYNC. Between now and June 27, the following two titles are available for download (while the window of opportunity for downloading is finite, once downloaded you can listen at your leisure):

Irises By Francisco X. Stork, Read by Carrington MacDuffie, Published by Listening Library

    TWO SISTERS: Kate is bound for Stanford and an M.D. – if her family will let her go. Mary wants only to stay home and paint. When their loving but repressive father dies, they must figure out how to support themselves and their mother, who is in a permanent vegetative state, and how to get along in all their uneasy sisterhood.

    THREE YOUNG MEN: Then three men sway their lives: Kate’s boyfriend Simon offers to marry her, providing much-needed stability. Mary is drawn to Marcos, though she fears his violent past. And Andy tempts Kate with more than romance, recognizing her ambition because it matches his own.

    ONE AGONIZING CHOICE: Kate and Mary each find new possibilities and darknesses in their sudden freedom. But it’s Mama’s life that might divide them for good – the question of *if* she lives, and what’s worth living for.

Sense and Sensibility By Jane Austen, Read by Wanda McCaddon, Published by Tantor Media

    When Mrs Dashwood is forced by an avaricious daughter-in-law to leave the family home in Sussex, she takes her three daughters to live in a modest cottage in Devon. For Elinor, the eldest daughter, the move means a painful separation from the man she loves, but her sister Marianne finds in Devon the romance and excitement which she longs for. The contrasting fortunes and temperaments of the two girls as they struggle to cope in their different ways with the cruel events which fate has in store for them are portrayed by Jane Austen with her usual irony, humour and profound sensibility.

To see the full schedule of downloadable titles, visit or text syncya to 25827 (texting will sign you up for alerts when new audio downloads become available).

*All these audiobook covers with sisters hugging makes me want to give my sister a big squeeze. Watch out Sarah! I’m coming for you!

SYNC is back! Free summer audio downloads!

18 Jun

SYNC is back! Lovers of YA and classic literature will have the opportunity to download free audio recordings each week this summer from June 14 – August 22, 2012. Each week SYNC offers a new audiobook pairing – a popular YA title and a classic that connects with the YA title’s theme.

To see the full schedule of downloadable titles, visit or text syncya to 25827 (texting will sign you up for alerts when new audio downloads become available). If you’re like me and you use the free Overdrive Media Console to download audio through your library system, you’re already one step ahead in getting ready to download your free audio!

Between now and June 20, the following two titles are available for download (while the window of opportunity for downloading is finite, once downloaded you can listen at your convenience):

The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch, Read by Dan Bittner (Scholastic Audiobooks)

    In an America devastated by war and plague, the only way to survive is to keep moving.

 In the aftermath of a war, America’s landscape has been ravaged and two-thirds of the population left dead from a vicious strain of influenza. Fifteen-year-old Stephen Quinn and his family were among the few that survived and became salvagers, roaming the country in search of material to trade. But when Stephen’s grandfather dies and his father falls into a coma after an accident, Stephen finds his way to Settler’s Landing, a community that seems too good to be true. Then Stephen meets strong, defiant, mischievous Jenny, who refuses to accept things as they are. And when they play a prank that goes horribly wrong, chaos erupts, and they find themselves in the midst of a battle that will change Settler’s Landing–and their lives–forever.

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, Frank Galati [Adapt.], Read by Shirley Knight, Jeffrey Donovan, and a Full Cast (L.A. Theatre Works) (NOTE: this is a radio play, rather than an unabridged recording of the original)

    Drought and economic depression are driving thousands from Oklahoma. As their land becomes just another strip in the dust bowl, the Joads, a family of sharecroppers, decide they have no choice but to follow. They head west, towards California, where they hope to find work and a future for their family.

Be sure to check out the full schedule of downloadable audiobooks available through SYNC this summer!

Audiobook Month Giveaway!

17 Jun

Did you know June is Audiobook Month? Did you know audiobooks were what brought me back to the realm of the reading? College basically killed my love of reading and after graduating it was hard to get back to reading sans highlighter. But around 6 years ago, I suddenly had an hour commute on my hands and decided to dive into the Harry Potter series by listening to the audio recordings read by Jim Dale.* I’ve been an avid audiobook listener (and regular ol’ book reader) ever since. Now that I no longer have a commute, most of my listening is done in the garden, while I’m pulling weeds or harvesting vegetables. My garden looks its best when I have a good audiobook that I’m listening to. (thanks so far this season to Courtney Summers and Rebecca Serle!)

Since it’s Audiobook Month and I love books and readers (audiobooks and listeners too), I thought it’d be nice to offer a little giveaway! EDIT: The winner has been selected and will be contacted by email! The winner will select an audiobook of their choice from the Audible site. Thanks for sharing your favorite audiobooks! Need help choosing your next audiobook? Here are a few of my favorites!

*Nora and I first met on Valentine’s Day. Romantic, I know. She and her husband invited me and my hubby over for dinner (Nora and the hubs went to college together). After dinner while shelf-gazing, I noticed her Harry Potter collection. I mentioned how I credit the HP audiobooks with reviving my love of reading, to which her husband said, “oh, I actually worked on those” and then preceded to answer all my questions about what it’s like to be in the studio with Jim Dale! Not a bad “first date”.

When You Were Mine

12 Jun

In this contemporary twist on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, we watch the classic story unfold from the perspective of Romeo’s original love interest, Rosaline. Rose (Rosaline) and Rob (Romeo) have been friends forever. But since the end of the school year, it has seemed like they might be more than just friends. Now back from summer vacation the two seem to be on their way to becoming a couple. Then Juliet comes to town. Rose used to be close with her cousin Juliet until their parents had a falling out and Juliet’s family left town. When Juliet catches the attention, and heart, of Rob, Rose is forced to watch from the sidelines as these two people, who she was once close with, fall in love and fall apart.

One major difference between Romeo and Juliet and When You Were Mine is that in Romeo and Juliet, Rosaline is either uninterested or unavailable whereas in When You Were Mine, Rose is more or less ready to dive in, and Rob seems to be on the same page and know that they’re in it together. The heartbreak when her dreamy lovebird future with Rob is crushed is palpable. Their budding romance isn’t love at first sight; it’s not “maybe I’d like to get to know you better”. It’s “I love you, you’re my best friend, and maybe I could be in love with you”.  Taking that next step with a good friend is scarytown (albeit exciting) and to have it not work out and to not work out in the worst possible way (i.e. losing your friend in the process) sucks. Bigtime heartache sucks. 

With Rob off romancing her cousin, she’s left with Charlie and Olivia, her two besties, who are at least there for her when she needs them, though I’m not sure they are people I would want to be friends with. To make matters worse, audiobook reader Sarah Grace’s performance of Olivia’s voice is extremely grating (whiny, high pitched). I’m not sure if we’re meant to like Olivia, or any of the characters, but this reading made it especially hard to imagine wanting to hang out with the girl. Aside from that voice, I quite enjoyed Sarah Grace’s performance throughout the audio recording. The voice of Rose is spot on – you hear her mix of nerves and excitement over the potential romance with Rob, her heartbreak and confusion with the various twists and turns, and her opening up to a potential new love. The pacing is also solid. I often find myself using the Audible app 1.5x or 2x speed settings when listening to audio, but here the pace needed no adjustment.

This is the story of a character on the sidelines – the character that isn’t even cast in productions of Romeo and Juliet – so we don’t get much in the way of the inside story of Rob and Juliet. It makes it hard to care whether or not their story ends the same way that Romeo and Juliet’s does. Rob loses me when he so quickly throws Rose aside for her cousin. You don’t do that to a friend. You don’t do that to someone you love. Juliet on the other hand, I did want a bit more from character development wise. I didn’t buy how Rose’s crew viewed her and I don’t think Rose did either, and eventually we do get a bit more from her. Still, some things remain a bit of a mystery, which is how it tends to work in the real world I suppose. I like a good person on the sidelines story, especially when their story ends up taking center stage, as it did here. While those two lovebirds are off doing whatever they do, our main character is dealing with her heartbreak, figuring out her world without Rob by her side, trying to understand her family’s issues, and exploring her growing interest in a new crush.

One thing I’m always curious about with contemporary Shakespeare adaptations, is wondering whether or not the characters see the connections? In this case it’s clear that in this story world Shakespeare exists (they are performing Macbeth at school) and apparently Romeo and Juliet does as well (a character refers to another jokingly as “Romeo” in one scene), so how do they not notice how weird it is that someone named Juliet Caplet is in love with someone whose last name is Monteg? This isn’t a complaint or a critique of the work, but it’s something that’s always on my mind when reading or watching adaptations. Are they all just dim-witted? Not well-read? Regardless, it’s a fun exercise in suspension of disbelief.

Em’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Author: Rebecca Serle
Reader: Sarah Grace
Publishers: Simon Pulse & Brilliance Audio (May 2012)

Cracked Up To Be

21 May

Imagine four years.

Four years, two suicides, one death, one rape, two pregnancies (one abortion), three overdoses, countless drunken antics, pantsings, spilled food, theft, fights, broken limbs, turf wars–every day, a turf war–six months until graduation and no one gets a medal when they get out. But everything you do here counts.

High school.

(opening lines of Cracked Up To Be)

Last summer, Capillya of That Cover Girl stopped by Love YA Lit to shout-out some of her favorite YA novels. One of the chosen ones was Cracked Up To Be by Courtney Summers. Capillya promised me razor-sharp writing, a mystery, an extra helping of grit, and a complicated character trying to make sense of their messed up life. When I needed some audiobook accompaniment as I set to work on my garden this spring*, I decided to check another book off the Capillya Says Read It list and dive on into Courtney Summers’ 2009 debut novel. I was not disappointed!

Once the head cheerleader, girlfriend of the most popular guy in school, and top student, Parker Fadley started getting a different kind of attention when she quit the cheerleading squad, started failing her classes, and was caught drinking at school. Now she’s on suicide watch at home and forced to meet with school guidance counselors each week. Parker wants to be left alone, but people are watching her every move. When a new guy at school starts directing his attention her way, Parker starts feeling something again. But the last thing she wants is to feel, to open up, because something terrible has happened and only Parker knows the truth.

It’s hard not to draw the connection between Cracked Up To Be and Veronica Mars Season 1. No, Parker Fadley isn’t a private eye, but there are some definite similarities between PFad and VMars. Both girls are distinctly sarcastic and cynical, both were popular teens who after a traumatic experience became outsiders at school, and both of the girls’ traumatic experiences are relayed to the audience via intermittent flashback. But unlike VMars, who is remarkably functional given what she’s been through, Parker Fadley is falling apart. She’s trying so hard to close herself off from the world, that she’s finding it hard to be a part of it. It’s difficult to talk about what she’s going through without spoiling the mystery of what happened, but suffice it to say that her emotional well-being (or lack there of) is understandable given the circumstances of what happened. She’s not a protagonist I imagine most readers will attach themselves to quickly. She’s not the nicest of people, she’s manipulative, and she makes some bad choices. But the guilt she feels and the confusion about that night are easy to relate to and my heart breaks for her.

The audio version of Cracked Up To Be is read by Khristine Hvam, who does an impressive job capturing the spirit – and tone – of Parker Fadley. One thing worth noting about the audio recording is that the flashbacks come a bit as a surprise. In the book, the flashbacks are differentiated from the present day by a switch to italicized text, and this visual marker doesn’t quite translate to audio. Still, it’s a solid bit of storytelling, the audio production is fabulous, and it’s a quick “read” (6 hrs), so well worth a listen.

Em’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Author: Courtney Summers
Reader: Khristine Hvam
Publishers: St. Martin’s Griffin & Brilliance Audio (2009 & 2011)

(While listening to Cracked Up To Be in my garden, I planted tomatoes, bok choy, red cabbage, kale, collards, basil, brussel sprouts, broccoli, nasturtium, cantaloupe, and icelandic poppies. Audiobooks are magic.)

32 audiobooks enter, 1 audiobook leaves (victorious!)

19 Mar

The 5th Annual Tournament of Audiobooks has begun over at The tournament bracket is filled with a range of audiobooks, including adult, juvenile and young adult titles; non-fiction and fiction; and a large range of styles and genres. The full bracket is broken into four sections – Critically Acclaimed, Editor’s Picks, Best Sellers, and Customer Favorites – that will merge together in the final rounds of competition. Round 1 voting began March 18 and will continue through Sunday, March 26. Vote for your favorites and sample the competition (you can download the first chapter for each competing book for free through April 24th)! I have quite the fondness for audiobooks and I’m a fan of the Audible app for iPhone (seriously, 1.5x narration speed changed my life), so I’m excited to check out the free samples and see how this tourney goes!

These ladies were released from their book jackets for a little listening session. Who do you think is more engrossed in their audiobook?

Representing the world of YA, we have Lauren Oliver’s Delirium (narrated by Sarah Drew) up against Patti Smith’s Just Kids (narrated by Smith). Clare Vanderpool’s Newbery award-winning Moon Over Manifest (narrated by Jenna Lamia, Cassandra Campbell, and Kirby Heyborne) is up against Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 (narrated by Allison Hiroto, Marc Vietor, and Mark Boyett). And there are two Alex Award winners in the mix – Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One (narrated by Wil Wheaton) and Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus (narrated by Jim Dale). I’ll be interested to see how far these titles make it and which title in the end emerges victorious.

For those who can’t get enough of bracketed book competitions, our friends in the blogosphere are also offering some fun competitions. Do check them out!

Forever Young Adult’s March Madness – complete with Headless Person, Fancy Dress, Big Face, and Covertastic Divisions!

And YA March Madness, co-hosted by, Chick Loves Lit, GReads, and The Book Cellar – with Paranormal, Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Dystopia, and Fantasy/Mythology Divisions (each division is hosted at a different blog).

Probability Lesson #1: Miracles

29 Jan

16-year-old Cam Cooper has spent the last seven years in and out of hospitals in her battle against cancer. One day, sitting in her car in the hospital parking lot she comes across her old flamingo list – a bucket list created during summer camp with her friend Lily that includes such important life milestones as “kill my little sister’s dreams”, “lose my virginity at a keg party”, and “experiment with petty shoplifting”. Feeling like all hope is gone, Cam decides it’s time to speed up the process of checking things off her list (starting with some petty shoplifting). Her mother, on the other hand, has not given up hope and decides to pack up and move her daughters from Florida to the small town of Promise, Maine, where it is said that miracles happen. Cam is cynical and sarcastic and doesn’t believe in miracles, but when her health improves and she meets some of Promise, Maine’s finest, she learns to open up and live in the moment.

“She realized she’d be spending the rest of her short life making other people feel better about the prospect of losing her.” (p. 31)

That line breaks my heart. No teenager should have to come to this sort of realization. Cam is a solid protagonist. Even if she isn’t your favorite person, you’ll still find yourself caring for her and hoping that the streak of miracles in Promise, Maine don’t skip her over. Cam is intensely pessimistic, at least in the beginning, which would turn some off, but the girl does have a pretty valid excuse for said pessimism and at least she owns it. It’s interesting to see the change she goes through during her summer in Promise, Maine. Though the story is written in third person, audiobook reader Emma Galvin captures Cam’s tone and attitude perfectly. With such an emotional storyline, there is great potential for either author or reader to take things too far – tipping the scales towards the overdramatic – but there is none of that here. Wunder handles the emotional scenes and moments of self-reflection with great care and Galvin’s understated performance is believable and much appreciated.

The Probability of Miracles is an impressive debut with a whole lot of heart. For such a serious and sad subject matter, the book still manages to be light and fun while navigating the emotional rollercoaster of Cam’s summer in Promise, Maine. So while there may very well be tears along the way, Wunder gives Cam and the reader good reasons to stick around. Immensely touching, this book will stay with you long after the last pages.

Em’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Author: Wendy Wunder
Reader: Emma Galvin
Publisher: Penguin Audio and Razorbill (December 2011)
Note: Audiobook received from publisher for honest review.

The Rock and the River

16 Jan

13 year old Sam Childs, son of a well known civil rights activist, has grown up believing that the non-violent protest methods of his father and Dr. King will lead to change. One day, Sam discovers literature about the Black Panthers under his older brother Stick’s bed. Stick brings a home a gun, and then soon after runs away to join the movement. After witnessing police brutality on the streets and learning of the assassination of Dr. King, Sam starts to question his father’s tactics and yearns to learn more about the Black Panther Party. Torn between two role models – his father and his brother – Sam must make sense of his world and choose which path to take.

The Rock and the River takes place in 1968, the year in which Dr. King was assassinated, towards the end of the time period generally referred to as the Civil Rights Movement (1955-1968), and in the early days of the Black Panther Party (founded in Oakland in 1966). Sam is on the brink of adulthood and still looking for guidance from his father and brother, who seem to be on complete opposite ends of the spectrum. As the racial violence strikes closer to home, it becomes harder for him to understand and truly believe in the non-violent protest methods that his father has raised him on. But is he ready to throw those beliefs away? His anger draws him to the Panthers, but as he joins the party, he learns that there is more to them than uniforms and guns.

I was not taught anything about the Black Panther Party in school, aside from seeing occasional images of them (in the context of comparison to the non-violent protesters) wearing leather jackets and berets and carrying guns. And I doubt that I’m unique in this gap in my formal history studies. It’s a shame because, as Magoon’s novel proves, it’s valuable to see the various methods employed in the struggle and the connections and differences between the various parties. I also appreciate that Sam’s introduction to the Black Panther Party has him recognizing that there is more to them than their militancy. While he wavers back and forth between being drawn to and scared of the gun-toting aspect of the Panthers, Sam gains a feeling of hope for the movement and connection to his brother when dreaming of the Panther’s plan for a neighborhood clinic.

Sam isn’t only thinking about Civil Rights though. He’s 13 and he’s becoming an adult. He’s thinking of his future and his girlfriend Maxie, and yet also yearning for the comfort of childhood – of the days when he and Stick used to build a tower in their bedroom and share bedtime stories. His male role models have drifted apart from one another because of their politics and he’s not sure which one’s footsteps to follow in. It’s a confusing and emotional time for him, and as a reader it’s impossible not to root for him and wish to lend him a hand when he’s feeling alone.

I started off reading The Rock and the River by listening to the fabulous audio recording, read by Dion Graham whose vocal performance is spot on as usual. About mid-way through, I switched to reading the physical book, not because the audiobook wasn’t working for me (oh how it was), but rather the environment I was in made reading more appropriate than listening. And I think I switched at just the right time, being able to read at my own pace as the action picked up. About 3/4 of the way into the book, I simply couldn’t stop reading until I reached the end. Sam, his internal struggles, and his connection to family during these trying times, is what really kept me engaged throughout the novel. Yet Magoon also inspired me to learn more about the history of this time period and specifically about the Black Panther Party. This is what I appreciate most about quality historical fiction – when authors manage to bring history to life in a way that encourages continued exploration.

Em’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Author: Kekla Magoon
Reader: Dion Graham
Publisher: Brilliance Audio (May 2010) and Aladdin (January 2009)

Dairy Queen

25 Jul

It is summer in Red Bend, Wisconsin and 15 year old D.J. Schwenk has a lot on her shoulders. With her father still recovering from a hip injury, her mother busy with her teaching/admin work, her two older brothers off at college (and not on speaking terms with Dad), and her youngest brother selectively mute, D.J. has been running the family farm – keeping the fields, buildings, and cows in working order. With the hard work and long hours of farming, D.J.’s grades have suffered and she has had to abandon her commitment to her sports teams (one per season: volleyball, basketball, softball, and track). While she’s busy baling hay and milking cows, rather than competing in summer track meets, a family friend – who also happens to be the football coach of Red Bend’s rival team – sends his team’s star quarterback to help out at the Schwenk Farm. While the QB, Brian Nelson, doesn’t seem to be a good match at first – for the farm work or for D.J. – things get more interesting and the two teens more compatible when D.J. adds one more task to her summer responsibilities: secretly training Brian Nelson for the upcoming football season. D.J. comes from a football family (her dad even names cows after football players and coaches) and has practiced with her older brothers (former high school football stars) for years. During her summer of farming and football, D.J. learns a lot about herself, her family, and the importance of doing what you love.

Our blog buddy, Capillya of That Cover Girl, guest posted earlier this month here at Love YA Lit and counted Dairy Queen as one of her favorite YA novels. So I quickly requested the audiobook at my local library and got to listening. This book absolutely lived up to the hype and the audiobook is one of my favorites that I’ve listened to so far this year. The narrator, Natalie Moore, is outstanding. She captures the heart, attitude, and tone that Murdock created for D.J. Schwenk and with a slight Wisconsin accent peeking through, the reading is just perfect. In just under 300 pages and just over 6 hours of listening, this book packs a lot into the story of one girl’s summer. And Murdock does so without the story feeling too crowded or aspects feeling underdeveloped.

It’s hard to say what I appreciate most about Dairy Queen – the fun and fabulous D.J. Schwenk, the family-farm setting, or the way that Murdock develops both our understanding of the family dynamic and the family members as individuals. I’ve come across very few YA titles that take place on a family farm and with a farm-working protagonist. I’m friends with farmers and farm-workers and I’ve done some farmworker advocacy work over the years. I recognize some of my farmer/farmworker friends in D.J. and appreciate that Murdock shows the struggles and physical tolls that farm work can take on one’s body and life. And she shows how this important and intensely hard work can be devalued and mocked by those who don’t know any better (or are just plain mean); for example, when Brian’s friends moo at D.J. and call her “Dairy Queen”. I also love how Murdock focuses on D.J. learning more about her family – recognizing that they have some serious communication issues, and that they each have their own secret desires and activities. I have a lot of respect for D.J. Schwenk. She works extremely hard and makes personal sacrifices for the sake of her family. But over the summer, she also recognizes that her own needs and passions are important, and makes plans to do something that will make her happy, rather than simply doing what is expected or asked of her. She isn’t perfect, but she does acknowledge and own her shortcomings and mistakes and in the process gains some self-understanding and self-esteem. D.J. has an enjoyable and believable voice and is a skilled storyteller. I like her so much, in fact, that I forgive her for her snide comment about the non-milk-drinking type of vegetarian. Friends on.

There are two books that follow in the Dairy Queen Trilogy – Off Season and Front and Center – and I hope to read them all someday, as I can’t imagine that any book narrated by D.J. could be anything short of wonderful. I also think Nora should give Dairy Queen a second try. In a post Friday Night Lights world, she may be open to giving a sports-themed book a try….

Em’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Author: Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Reader: Natalie Moore
Publisher: Random House Audio (2006); Houghton Mifflin Company (2006)