Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury audio book read by Elissa Steele

Wrapped is a great audio book for teen girls- I’m sure it’s great in written form as well, but I listened to it and loved it out loud. Agnes Wilkins is a beautiful young woman about to make her debut on London’s high society. She is invited to a mummy unwrapping party and discovers that she has stumbled upon a mystery when she is chosen to cut into the ancient mummy wrappings.

While standing still for endless hours being fitted for top-secret ball gowns Agnes spouts off Jane Austen quotes in multiple languages, much to the chagrin of her mother. Of course, in keeping with Jane Austen’s most famous decree that every single, wealthy man is in want of a wife, Agnes is expected to be snatched up by her wealthy bachelor neighbor, the dry arrogant Lord Showalter who loves to flaunt his wealth and knowledge (he’s also the host of the unwrapping party). I think my favorite character, next to Agnes, was Caedman, the aspiring Egyptologist who has no means to pursue Agnes and no hope to succeed in winning her because of that.  Wrapped

I would love to read this in written form because sometimes I get distracted when listening to things out loud and I kept having to backtrack when my kids got too noisy. I learned a lot about Napolean and London in this refreshing glimpse into 1815 London. Most novels of this time period completely ignore the political turmoil of the time, and I enjoyed getting a more world-savvy view. I also enjoyed that Agnes defied the social expectations of young women of her day to accomplish some amazing things. If you prefer written words, to audio books, you may want to check this version out:


I have to ask, because the covers are so different- which cover most appeals to you? Or do you like them both?


Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson

hattie big skyHattie Brooks is full of hard work and determination. Orphaned at a young age and forced to bounce among relatives, Hattie is surprised when an uncle’s will appears and offers her a new start- on her own in Vida, Montana. Hattie rolls up her sleeves and digs into the dirt to prove up her uncle’s claim. I always love a good pioneer story and this one did not disappoint. I was amazed by the fact that Hattie’s story is based on the author’s own step great grandmother. What an amazing woman!

Well researched and superbly written, Hattie Big Sky is a pleasure to read. What a disappointment to turn the last page and realize the story was over. I found myself wishing that there was a sequel! I’m pretty sure I will be reading this one at least one more time. I didn’t even know it was a Newberry Honor book until I was writing the review- it definitely deserves the recognition! This book would be a great family audio book for a trip, I think I just might get my second reading in that way. . . I’m off to put a hold on the audio. . . yeah!

On the Wings of Heroes by Richard Peck read by Lincoln Hoppe

Newberry-winning author of A Year Down Yonderwings-of-heroes

We went on a road trip to beautiful Sun Valley, Idaho last week as a family. We had a wonderful time, and part of that wonderful time is attributable to this great book, by one of my favorite authors. My husband and I both really enjoyed it, and my boys thought it was good- although we had to skip the scary porch story telling in order to make sure we weren’t up all night with ghostly imaginings.

Lincoln Hoppe, the voice for the story was absolutely spell-binding. Especially his old lady voices, “Where’s mine? Where’s mine?” the old lady asking for her cake had us giggling in appreciation at his excellent portrayals.

This is Peck’s 30th novel for young adults and was written to pay tribute to his father, a WWI veteran. You will see the resemblance to the father in the book who is also a WWI vet. It makes you wonder how much Davy resembles Peck himself. Davy and his friend get themselves into all kinds of scrapes and trouble- just the kind you would imagine all boys getting into during WWII. Cobwebby attics and buckshot filled barns- along with street games that make you pine for simpler days. Not easier, just simpler because communities were more cohesive and people really looked out for one another.

Davy’s older brother Bill is everyone’s hometown hero. When he goes off to fly B-17s in WWII, your heart drops into your stomach because you want so much for him to come home safe. I was incredulous to learn that when his plane was shot down, it didn’t count toward his quota of missions to fly because the mission wasn’t completed. That’s just idiotic- but I’m sure it happened more than once.

I think this book would make a great gift for either my father or father-in-law. My only complaint, and I think it would be their’s as well is the boy scout part. Davy gives up on boy scouts because he is so disappointed by some of the things other scouts do- one scout in particular, who falls from his place as a knight in shining armor when he participates in stealing papers from younger scouts in order to win a medal for a war-effort paper drive. Davy doesn’t see the point of scouts after that and hangs up his gold and blue bandana forever. As we all know, there are people who don’t have integrity in every organization and if we base our decision to be part of an organization on the integrity of every individual therein, we wouldn’t be a part of anything. I was disappointed that Davy’s parents let him so easily give up on a great program for kids.

So, I was talking to Cari and she said that she was planning on reviewing this book, and I told her I was too. Since I listened to it on audio and I wanted to make sure to include how wonderful Hoppe’s voice work was, I won the coin toss (okay, it wasn’t exactly a coin toss). This isn’t a double scoop (although it’s really good, and quite possibly could have made the cut, but we already have a Richard Peck book on the list). But, just so Cari can add her two cents, now it’s her turn:

Well let’s see I read On Wings of Heroes back in January and it was on my to be reviewed list.  I was talking to Holly and come to find out she just listened to it on audio. What are the chances that we would both read and want to review the same book, especially when we had already planned a doublescoop for one of his other books? Anyway I fell in love with Richard Peck’s writing then and there. His writing is genius, the words flow and bounce through your head like a delightful stream. I loved his characters. They are so full of life. And then there are the pranks, which makes me wonder what his childhood was like. If I wanted to play a practical joke Richard Peck would be one of my sources for coming up with one.

I appreciated the way he told what life was like during WWII, not only was Bill off fighting the war, but everyone dealt with rations. Rations for sugar, for tires, for shoes and gas. Everyone was affected even if they were not a soldier. You also saw the struggle of both Davy’s parents – his dad who had been injured in WWI so he knew the harsh realities of war and wondered about Bill’s safety. And then his mother trying to deal with her son, gone and maybe dead while trying to support the war effort at the same time. On Wings of Heroes is the right mix of humor and realism to give you a feel for what war was like on the home front.

Check out our other reviews on Richard Peck’s books A Long Way From Chicago and our April double scoop,  A Year Down Yonder.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney Read by Ramon de Ocampo

diaryofawimpykidWARNING this book may be hazardous to your health!!!! This is especially true when standing on your Wii balance board while listening to Diary of a Wimpy Kid on CD. For those of you who don’t know I got a Wii Fit for Christmas.  I have never wanted a video game in my life . . .  but here I am over 30 wanting a video game for Christmas. Anyway I thought it would be a good opportunity to get some exercise in and listen to my new book on CD, which I wouldn’t recommend doing . . . at least with this particular title. I laughed so hard that  I’m pretty sure it ruined my almost new record at Wii hula hooping. Really my Wii Fit has a hula hooping game and I’m hooked.

I taught middle school and I could see so many of my students liking this book. Especially when he describes a middle school as the only place where really short people the size of kindergarteners go to school with other kids who need to shave twice a day. I’m really short and I had several middle school students (always boys) who took great pride in standing next to me so they could tower over a teacher. And if they couldn’t do at the beginning of the year they most certainly could by the end of the year or at least by the time they left middle school.

A Diary of a Wimpy Kid chronicles Greg Heffley who is trying to figure life out and writes his observations down in his diary (aka journal because only girls use diaries). I especially liked the Wizard of Oz musical fiasco although that’s when my attempt to break my personal best at hula hooping ended in laughter and I was six seconds away from breaking my record. Just six seconds . . . oh well the book was worth it.

This is a great light-hearted read so if you looking for a good laugh try Diary of a Wimpy Kid, but please don’t try and exercise at the same time otherwise you just might end up in the hurting yourself. Also I realized after listening to the book that it comes with cartoons. How cool is that? And really how many books with cartoons can you make into an audio book and have it work. I highly recommend this book.

Jeff Kinney’s website Diary of a Wimpy Kid and blog. Check it out the third book was released in January a few days ago.

See what other bloggers are saying:

Natasha Maw says “I highly recommend this book especially if you have a reluctant reader in your household or even if you’re a woman pushing thirty like myself.”

Krystel at Kystel’s Book Blog “One of the true tests of popularity for books is when the holds list reaches 20 or more (due to at least one kid asking for it daily). This book has it, at least in my system.”

A 10 year old guest blogger at Books on the BrainOn the inside, the book looks as if it’s someone’s real writing in a diary or a journal, like they wrote the book with a pen or pencil. There are illustrations that look like doodles and they are really cool.”

So what’s one of your favorite books that makes you laugh?

Violet and the Mean and Rotten Pirates by Richard Hamilton, Read by Bill Wallis

violetandthemeanandrottenpiratesThis is a book my whole family listened to on a recent road trip. Pirates find an abandoned ship and in their hopes to find treasure they find a baby instead. They decide to keep the baby and name her Violet and call her Vile for short. These pirates are not all bad as they do seem to manage to raise the baby, keep her alive and the pirate captain faints when he sees blood. The pirates don’t want to kill people. They teach her all kinds of things including how to use a sword, sail a ship and to read. Of course they also have lots of adventure and eventually go on land to try and be land loving people, but mostly so that Violet can meet some other people. The pirates aren’t really sure what to do though as they have spent most of their lives on the sea robbing and pillaging ships. So they come up with a pretty creative idea to earn money – a pirate circus.

I liked the idea of a baby being raised by pirates, but I the book seeemed a little awkward in places and odd, but I guess the whole idea of pirates being able to raise a baby is odd. My daughter liked the story.

Other reviews of this book Cindy Valler,