Sunday, March 13, 2016

Door by the Staircase by Katherine Marsh-5 stars

Marsh, Katherine, Door by the Staircase. Pgs. 288. Disney Hyperion, 2016. $17.99

Ever since her mother and father were killed in a fire, 12-year-old orphan, Mary Hayes hasn’t had a place to call home. Wanting nothing but to escape from Buffalo Asylum for Young Girls, Maya is thrilled when Madame Z, an elderly woman, adopts her. Her new home is in a village called Iris. This village has more than meets the eye. Despite being filled with magic and razzle-dazzle, something feels off to Mary. As her new mystery of a life unfolds, she discovers that Madame Z is really Baba Yaga-the witch who eats children. Is Baba Yaga the enemy her fairy tale story suggests? Or, is there someone or something else more sinister going on?

Narrator, Laurel Merlington captivating, distinct voices bring Mary’s world and it’s characters to life. Her intonations are an ideal match for this well-paced novel. The plot is well developed and intense.  The rich, layered text adds depth to the story and draws the reader into the story with ease. Fans of fantasy, mystery, and adventure will enjoy listening to this audiobook.

Grades 4 to 7, 5 stars

Friday, March 11, 2016

Dragon’s Return: Zodiac Legacy #2 by Stan Lee-5 stars

Lee, Stan, Dragon’s Return: Zodiac Legacy #2. 8.24 hrs. (unbar.). Blackstone Audio, 2016. $29.95. ISBN 978-1481501699

When we last left Steven, he and his Zodiac teammates had removed Maxwell’s dragon powers and sent him into retreat. Not, however, before Maxwell had captured Carlos, the team’s leader.  Now Mawell and Carlos haven’t been seen in months, but the Zodiac team is falling apart. Jasmine, the other team’s leader, has become a hermit and is rarely seen outside of her hiding place. Duane is having trouble coming to terms with his non-combat skills. Kim’s father is ill and she’s having doubts about staying with Zodiac. Roxanne is toying with the idea of going back to her musical career. Personal lives, however, get put on hold once again when rumors of Mawell’s next move start to surface. Can the team band together long enough to stop Mawell? Will Jasmine snap out of her funk? What is Mawell planning?

Narrator, Feodor Chin engaging narrative style brings to life Steven’s world. His original voices are befitting of the book’s characters. He masterfully narrates the images in the physical book as well as the action and dialogue scenes. The plot is well developed and has a brisk pace that keeps the listener on their toes. Together, Chin and Lee draw the reader into a movie-like telling of the book. Fans of Stan Lee, Marvel, superheroes, and action/adventure books will have a hard time putting this audiobook down. 

5 stars, Grades 5 to 9