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review 2018-09-30 04:04
The Wild Robot (audiobook) by Peter Brown, narrated by Kate Atwater
The Wild Robot - Peter Brown

The Wild Robot is a Middle Grade sci-fi/survival/talking animal book. I had seen it before and considered getting it, but I have too many books as it is. When I saw that my local public library had added it to their Overdrive audiobook collection, I pounced on it. I believe my checkout included access to accompanying files with illustrations, but I didn't attempt to find and open those files.

The Wild Robot begins with a terrible shipwreck during a hurricane (although the words "climate change" are never used, this is definitely a vision of the near future that includes some of the effects of climate change). The ship's cargo included several robots, only one of which survived the wreck. That robot, Roz, is activated by a group of curious otters. Over the next few months, Roz gradually learns how to survive in the wild and communicate with the animals around her. Can a robot somehow make friends and find a home in such a wild place?

I really enjoyed how this audiobook started. The beginning seemed very much like a robot survival book, as Roz attempted to figure out how to protect herself from the elements and from animals. She was programmed to be nonviolent and was therefore incapable of fighting back against any animals that attacked her. She was also programmed to keep herself clean and shiny, a serious drawback in outdoor survival, where her shininess drew attention to her and prevented her from properly hiding from dangers.

I was a bit disappointed when Roz learned to communicate with animals and this suddenly morphed from an outdoor adventure into a talking animal book. Somehow, Roz's newfound animal communication skills allowed her to talk to all animals she came across in full sentences, and allowed them to talk to her in full sentences. I had some trouble accepting that Roz and a beaver were somehow using beaver language to discuss the specifics of building a lodge. The beaver even suggested that Roz grow a garden with some help from local deer. Meanwhile, I was sitting there wondering how a beaver and deer were supposed to know anything about gardening.

Eventually, I managed to stop thinking of the book's animals as true animals so much and was able to think of them more as talking animals, which helped me enjoy the story more. (I'm guessing that the author really did intend for them to be true animals, based on details later on in the book. But animal communication doesn't work like that, so I'm just going to go with my "talking animals with a few true animal characteristics" interpretation.)

Roz's efforts to find a place for herself and make friends were nice, although the lengths she had to go to before the animals stopped considering her a monster and started considering her a friend occasionally bothered me. I mean, what if she hadn't been able to build all those lodges?

At any rate, I particularly liked her efforts to figure out motherhood after she accidentally became the mother of a gosling. I worried about where Brown planned to go with that. In theory, Roz could outlive Brightbill, her son. If you, like me, worry about fictional animals, I can tell you that

there were a few animal deaths here and there but that, as far as I can remember, none of the animals readers are likely to be most attached to die.

(spoiler show)


I did start to worry that Roz wasn't going to make it, though. It's amazing the amount of damage she sustained in only a few months living in a forest. With no humans around, there was no way for her to acquire new parts or get any kind of maintenance. It was a relief to know that a sequel already existed. If Roz was the main character of that book as well, surely she wouldn't be destroyed at some point in The Wild Robot.

Kate Atwater's narration was wonderful. I liked most of the voices she chose for the various animals, and her robotic Roz voice somehow managed to be appealing. She was accompanied by various sound effects, such as otter squeaks and button clicks, which I thought was nicely done.

All in all, I enjoyed this and will probably read (or listen to) the next book at some point.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2018-09-27 23:11
In a handful of dust there is not a drop to drink...my doomy doomsday pick
In a Handful of Dust - Mindy McGinnis

 

 

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~BOOK BLURB~

In A Handful Of Dust

Mindy McGinnis

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A dangerous disease strikes the community where teenage Lucy lives. When her adoptive mother, Lynn, takes Lucy away from their home and friends in order to protect her, Lucy struggles to figure out what home means. During their journey west to find a new life, the two face nature's challenges, including hunger, mountains, and deserts.

 

 

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~MY QUICKIE REVIEW~

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An interesting follow-up to Not A Drop to Drink, while I didn't like it as much as the first installment, I did like it…I'm just not completely on-board with that ending.  Overall, a sadness hangs over the whole book…that never really dissipates with the ending, like the Author set out to make a series that puts the dis in dystopian.  She did have some interesting developments in this journey from Ohio to California…some I've never seen the likes of before.  One, in particular, was jaw-dropping.

 

This second book is from Lucy's pov instead of Lynn's, as it is in the first book.  I was sad that Cassandra Campbell wasn't the narrator, I really liked her, but a different narrator was the best way to keep a distinction between their voices.  

 

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~MY RATING~

4STARS - GRADE=B+

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~BREAKDOWN OF RATINGS~

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Plot~ 4/5

Main Characters~ 4/5

Secondary Characters~ 4/5

The Feels~ 3.8/5

Pacing~ 4.3/5

Addictiveness~ 4/5

Theme or Tone~ 4/5

Flow (Writing Style)~ 5/5

Backdrop (World Building)~ 4.5/5

Originality~ 4/5

Ending~ 4/5 Cliffhanger~ Not really.

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Book Cover~  I like it…

Narration~ 3.7 for Allyson Ryan, she did grow on me, eventually.

Series~ Not A Drop to Drink #2

Setting~ From Ohio to California

Source~ Audiobook (Library)

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I'm using this for Doomsday Square in Halloween Bingo 2018

 

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review 2018-09-27 13:30
Survival of the Fritters
Survival of the Fritters (A Deputy Donut Mystery) - Ginger Bolton

I loved the title on this book and that was what made me pick it up and borrow it from the library. I also loved the cover art, it is fun. That being said, this is the first book in the series and because it was a paperback vs a kindle and an audio combination (like I have been doing to help me get through the books faster), it took me some time to find to read the book. 

 

Em and her father-in-law, Tom, run a donut shop together after the death of her husband and his son. Tom is a former police chief and she is a former 911 operator. Tom is very observant and noticed that one of their regulars was missing. When she went over to talk with the ladies of the knitting group, she also noticed that Georgia was missing. Later the women return with the key to her house and a group to go see if she is okay. When they get to the house, they are shocked to find her dead. Brent comes and interviews the women and sends them on their way and keeps in contact with Em. 

 

Later that night, while visiting with a friend in her backyard, Em with her cat Dep's help finds one of the women, Lois, in her backyard, which borders Em's property on the ground with an injury to her head. This is when she gets involved in finding out who really murdered Georgia and five years before, Georgia's son, Matthias. 

 

It was a good story and I did enjoy reading it. 

 

 

 

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review 2018-09-23 17:05
5 STARS for this story that lives up to its amazing cover...
Contagion - Erin Bowman

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~BOOK BLURB~

Contagion

Erin Bowman

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IT GOT IN US

 

After receiving an urgent SOS from a work detail on a distant planet, a skeleton crew is dispatched to perform a standard search-and-rescue mission.

 

MOST ARE DEAD

 

But when the crew arrives, they find an abandoned site, littered with rotten food, discarded weapons…and dead bodies.

 

DON’T SET FOOT HERE AGAIN

 

As they try to piece together who—or what—could have decimated an entire operation, they discover that some things are best left buried—and some monsters are only too ready to awaken.

 

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~MY QUICKIE REVIEW~

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I wasn't sure what to expect with this…the only other books by Erin Bowman that I've read have been YA Westerns.  This is way different than those books.  I'll admit, early on, I thought she was jumping on the bandwagon, so to speak, with this deep space horror/thriller based on a crazy virus.  It felt an awful lot like Illuminae.  Within no time though, that thought was out of my head, because I was hooked on this compelling story.  With zombie-like symptoms, this mysterious virus is seriously frightening.  It does end on a total cliffhanger, but I'm not even upset about that because I cannot wait to listen to the second book which is set to come out in July of 2019.

 

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~MY RATING~

5STARS - GRADE=A+

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~BREAKDOWN OF RATINGS~

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Plot~ 5/5

Main Characters~ 5/5

Secondary Characters~ 5/5

The Feels~ 4.8/5

Pacing~ 5/5

Addictiveness~ 4.8/5

Theme or Tone~ 5/5

Flow (Writing Style)~ 5/5

Backdrop (World Building)~ 4.5/5

Originality~ 4.8/5

Ending~ 5/5  Cliffhanger~ Yeah…you could say that.

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Book Cover~ Love it…especially the colors in it.

Narration~ Amy McFadden

Series~ Contagion #1

Setting~  The Planet Achlys

Source~ Audiobook (Library)

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I used this for Dead Lands Square in Halloween Bingo 2018

 

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review 2018-09-23 02:01
AGAINST ALL ODDS - FROM THE RUSSIAN FRONT TO FREEDOM IN IRELAND
Against the Odds: Survival on the Russian Front 1944-1945 - John Stieber

"AGAINST THE ODDS" is a story that seems too incredible to have been real. But as the saying goes: Truth is often stranger than fiction. And so, it was with John Stieber, who, along with his older sister Erika, had been born in Czechoslovakia, the son of an engineer who had served bravely in the Austro-Hungarian Army during the First World War. Stieber's father, owing to his engineering expertise, was given an opportunity to work in England during the mid-1920s. As a result, Stieber's family lived in England for several years. Stieber himself states that English came to be his first language, though both his parents were native German speakers. (Both Stieber and his sister would acquire fluency in both languages, which later proved advantageous to them during the early postwar years.)

Stieber's father completed his contract and returned to Czechoslovakia in the early 1930s. Stieber struggled to learn Czech in school and admits that he didn't enjoy his time in school there very much. His time in Czechoslovakia proved to be brief, because his father's employer had another job assignment for him to undertake, this one in Ireland. Stieber came to love Ireland and would live there for about 6 years. Sometime in 1939, his parents decided to enroll both Stieber and his sister into secondary school in Germany. With war being declared in September, Stieber and his sister would be stuck in Germany for the duration. (Their parents remained in Ireland, which they later made their home.) 

After Stieber completed his studies, he was called up to serve in an anti-aircraft battery in 1943. He also served in the National Labor Service (Arbeitsdienst). Early in the following year, age 18, Stieber entered military service with the Fallschirm-Panzerkorps Hermann Göring and is sent to the Russian Front, where over the next year, he has many harrowing experiences and escapes death on several occasions. Indeed, Stieber would emerge from the war as one of the few men in his unit to survive and avoid being placed in a POW camp. 

I very much enjoyed reading this memoir, which I highly recommend to anyone who loves human interest stories.

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