Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Audiobook)

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Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Read by Elijah Wood

“Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain’s sequel to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, became an instant success in the year of its publication, 1884, but was seen by some as unfit for children to read because of its language, grammar, and “uncivilized hero.” The book has sparked controversy ever since, but most scholars continue to praise it as a modern masterpiece, an essential read, and one of the greatest novels in all of American literature. Twain’s satiric treatment of racism, religious excess, and rural simplicity and his accuracy in presenting dialects mark Huck Finn as a classic. His unswerving confidence in Huck’s wisdom and maturity, along with the well-rounded and sympathetic portrayal of Jim draw readers into the book, holding them until Huck’s last words rejecting all attempts to “sivilize” him.”

Mark Twain wrote Huck Finn as a sequel to Tom Sawyer. His original plan was to follow Huck into adulthood but after working on the book for several years he lost interest. When he eventually came back to Huck’s story, he abandoned his idea of telling Huck’s life story and decided instead to write it as a sort of continuation of Tom Sawyer.

Personally, of the two, Huck Finn is by far my favorite. I never really liked Tom. He’s just… annoying. Meanwhile, I find Huck fascinating. He has much more common sense than Tom. He’s deep down a better person I think, than Tom. Sure, he lies and “borrows” but he hates to hurt anyone’s feelings and he has a strong conscience. Even when he logically disagrees with his conscience due to the social constraints of the time period, emotionally, he tends to know what’s right and what isn’t.

It’s been years and years since I read Huck Finn; probably close to twenty years or more. But I read a review online the other day that mentioned this audio edition read by Elijah Wood. I hightailed it to audible.com as fast as possible and bought it. I listen to a lot of audiobooks on my iPod since I drive so much for work. At over ten hours long, this was almost four days worth of listening.

I’m a fan of Twain’s writing. He describes things so well. He uses commonplace descriptions to allow the reader to draw the picture in their head of the scene he’s creating. He also strikes a nice balance between narration and dialogue. I love the fact that Huck tells his own story from his own point of view as well. Twain really brings Huck, as well as the other characters, to life. And listening to Elijah Wood read the story… it was like I was riding down the highway with Huck sitting in the front seat next to me. And the story has laugh out loud funny moments. There were whole sections where I laughed like a fool driving down the road. I can also admit that there were some times that I cried.

Wood did an amazing job with the different accents and dialects that Twain gave his characters. At first I was very aware that I was listening to Elijah Wood but after just a few minutes, it stopped being Elijah and became Huck and Jim and Tom and even Pap.

Huck had it rough there’s no doubt. His Pap was abusive. He felt unloved. He considered himself to be stupid and eventually he came to question his own morals and character. He never sat down and felt too sorry for himself though. He dealt with adversity and made his way the best way he could. Though we know today that Huck had character and morals to spare, in those days he considered himself very close to a traitor to his race for his actions to help Jim. He struggled with his own conscience and the differences between what he felt in his heart was right and what he had been taught was right.

Huck Finn has created controversy for years and years. It is the fourth most banned book in the United States. It has been considered obscene, immoral and racist. As usual, the censors have it all wrong. Twain tells a story of a boy who is anti-racist in a time when it would cause him to be ostracized by society. Because of the use of the “N-word” throughout the book, people assume it must be racist but in actuality Twain used the language and vernacular of the time. If anyone doesn’t read this excellent example of classic American literature because of the use of a word they disagree with, they are missing out.

Audiobook
Published November 9th 2010 by Audible, Inc (first published 1884 in England, first published 1885 in US)
ASIN B004BDL7N6

5 stars

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Magyk (Septimus Heap #1)

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Magyk (Septimus Heap #1) by Angie Sage


“The seventh son of the seventh son, aptly named Septimus Heap, is stolen the night he is born by a midwife who pronounces him dead. That same night, the baby’s father, Silas Heap, comes across a bundle in the snow containing a new born girl with violet eyes. The Heaps take this helpless newborn into their home, name her Jenna, and raise her as their own. But who is this mysterious baby girl, and what really happened to their beloved son Septimus? “


This series has been on my to-read list for a while. I was pleased, when I finally got around to getting it from the library, with how long the book was. Typically, for me, the longer the book the better. Not so in this case. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the story. It was just. So. Freaking. Long. Sage probably could have told the story in half the pages and sped the pace up a little bit and it would have been just as good. I’m going to read the second book in the series next month but if I feel the same about the second book, I’ll probably give the series up as a lost cause and move on. I can see kids getting bored with the book in the middle, but when the action picks up, it is a really good story.


Hardcover
564 pages
Published March 1st 2005 by Katherine Tegen Books
ISBN13: 9780060577315


3 stars

Ender’s Game

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“In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race’s next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn’t make the cut—young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.

Ender’s skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister.

Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender’s two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If, that is, the world survives.”

Okay, I’m going to say it again… Un-put-down-able! My younger brother told me years ago that I should read this book but I just never got around to it. Then for some reason, it got stuck in my mind in March that I really wanted to read it. I was at B&N just hanging out with my bff when I decided to find it and buy it. I proceeded to stay up all night and read it. It was ridiculously good. I loaned it to my dad the next day and he stayed up all night reading it as well. I’ve read a few other books by Card but I’m definitely going to finish out this series.

Paperback
324 pages
Published July 15th 1994 by Tor Science Fiction (first published 1985)
ISBN13: 9780812550702
Hugo Award for Best Novel (1986), Nebula Award for Best Novel (1985)

5 stars

The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner’s Dilemma (The Mysterious Benedict Society #3)

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The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner’s Dilemma (The Mysterious Benedict Society #3) by Trenton Lee Stewart

“Join the Mysterious Benedict Society as Reynie, Kate, Sticky, and Constance embark on a daring new adventure that threatens to force them apart from their families, friends, and even each other. When an unexplained blackout engulfs Stonetown, the foursome must unravel clues relating to a nefarious new plot, while their search for answers brings them closer to danger than ever before.”

This is probably my favorite book of the entire series. Stewart’s writing is funny and a bit sarcastic, which is right up my alley. The kids are in for more adventures and facing plenty of danger. But as long as the trust each other and use each other’s strengths, they’ll get along alright.

Hardcover
448 pages
Published October 6th 2009 by Little, Brown Young Readers (first published January 1st 2009)
ISBN13: 9780316045520

3 stars

The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey (The Mysterious Benedict Society #2)

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The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey by Trenton Lee Stewart

“The fabulous foursome readers embraced as The Mysterious Benedict Society is back with a new mission, significantly closer to home. After reuniting for a celebratory scavenger hunt, Reynie, Kate, Sticky, and Constance are forced to go on an unexpected search–a search to find Mr. Benedict. It seems that while he was preparing the kids’ adventure, he stepped right into a trap orchestrated by his evil twin Mr. Curtain.

With only one week to find a captured Mr. Benedict, the gifted foursome faces their greatest challenge of all–a challenge that will reinforce the reasons they were brought together in the first place and will require them to fight for the very namesake that united them.”

More exciting adventures for Reynie, Sticky, Kate and Constance. This book was just as good as the first in the series, maybe even better as I read it in only one day. Again, the author writes with a great sense of humor and I love the pace of the story. It makes me want to read it without putting it down.

Hardcover
440 pages
Published May 1st 2008 by Little, Brown Young Readers
ISBN13: 9780316057806

3 stars

Stardust

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Stardust by Neil Gaiman

“One fateful night, Tristran promises his beloved that he will retrieve a fallen star for her from beyond the Wall that stands between their rural English town (called, appropriately, Wall) and the Faerie realm. No one ever ventures beyond the Wall except to attend an enchanted flea market that is held every nine years (and during which, unbeknownst to him, Tristran was conceived). But Tristran bravely sets out to fetch the fallen star and thus win the hand of his love. His adventures in the magical land will keep you turning pages as fast as you can–he and the star escape evil old witches, deadly clutching trees, goblin press-gangs, and the scheming sons of the dead Lord of Stormhold.

The story is by turns thrillingly scary and very funny. You’ll love goofy, earnest Tristran and the talking animals, gnomes, magic trees, and other irresistible denizens of Faerie that he encounters in his travels. Stardust is a perfect read-aloud book, a brand-new fairy tale you’ll want to share with a kid, or maybe hoard for yourself.”

I read the book after I saw the movie. I love them both despite their differences. It you’ve seen the film and you’re expecting the story line to follow the script, you’ll be disappointed. As always, much more happens in the book than happens in the movie. There are many more characters as well. I loved it and read it over again every year or so. I would say that this is a good book for young adults as well, however, there are a few spicy sex bits and one epithet so adults be warned before you pass it to your kid to read.

Paperback
250 pages
Published September 1st 2006 by Harper Perennial (first published October 1998)
ISBN13: 9780061142024
Locus Award Nominee for Best Fantasy Novel (1999), Geffen Award (2000), Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature (1999), ALA Alex Award (2000)

5 stars

The Mysterious Benedict Society (The Mysterious Benedict Society #1)

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The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

“Young readers who have worked their way through Lemony Snicket may well find their next obsession in The Mysterious Benedict Society, a dandy YA debut by novelist Trenton Lee Stewart. This engaging tale has all the elements tweens find intriguing: gifted kids, a dangerous mission, and a secret society where nothing is as it seems. Stewart throws plenty of challenges — physical, mental, and moral — in the path of his young protagonists, and readers will have fun solving the riddles and unraveling the clues in this smart, unconventional mystery. Complex, unpredictable, and deeply respectful of children’s innate intelligence, The Mysterious Benedict Society is highly recommended for thoughtful preteens. P.S. We loved it, too!”

Once again, this is another book that I picked up at the bookstore on whim because first, I liked the cover art, and second, the premise sounded good. I found out later that the illustrator is Carson Ellis, who illustrates the album cover art for The Decemberists, a band that I love.

Anyway, I loved the book. I knew I was going to be hooked on the entire series less than halfway into the first chapter. One of the reasons that I bought the book was that it was so long (I love to buy thick books that will *hopefully* take longer to read) but it was still a pretty fast read simply because it was such a fun read. The characters are great too and the author writes with a wonderful sense of humor. I read the whole series within days. Definitely a YA recommendation.

Paperback
485 pages
Published April 1st 2008 by Little Brown and Company (first published March 7th 2007)
ISBN13: 9780316003957
E.B. White Read Aloud Award for Older Readers (2008), Massachusetts Children’s Book Award (2009), Iowa Children’s Choice Award Nominee (2011)

3 stars