Remember, it’s only a game . . .
To say I enjoy fantasy books is an understatement. I love them. But there has been so much wonderful literary fiction and historical fiction out lately that I haven’t read as much as I would like. When I saw that Caraval by Stephanie Garber was finally available on audio from Overdrive, I immediately checked it out. I’ve seen it all over bookstagram and was so ready to disappear into a creative, fantastical world. (If you love fantasy too, check out THIS blog post from Alisa at Worlds Within Pages-she’s reading ONLY fantasy in February!) Caraval falls on the side of very light YA fantasy, but I really enjoyed it, and I’m glad I listened to it.
Scarlett and Donatella Dragna have been stuck on an island their whole lives, living in isolation with their cruel, controlling father. All Scarlett has ever wanted is to escape her life and see the mysterious Caraval, a once-a year show that takes place in a new, secret location every year. Unless you have been to Caraval, you don’t really know what happens there, but she knows it has to be wonderful. This year, Scarlett receives a personal invitation to attend from the Caraval director himself, Legend. When she gets there, Scarlett realizes that Tella has been kidnapped and that Caraval is a game-this year the game is to find Tella. The winner gets a wish . . . and maybe Tella. Scarlett has to find her sister before the game ends, and before her father figures out what she’s done.
Do you remember those murder mystery dinner party games in the 80s and 90s? Where everyone at the party gets a character, and no one knows who did what, and everyone has to figure it out together? (I’m pretty sure there was even a Golden Girls episode about it.) That’s what Caraval reminds me of, in the most fun way. A mystery that guests are thrust right into. With a slightly higher creep factor, of course, since they’re actually trapped in an entirely different place. This book is truly pure fun, and I had a great time disappearing into this book on audio every chance I got. Some of the writing is a bit over the top, but I was there for the plot so I didn’t really mind.
If you want a quick, fun fantasy book, give Caraval a try. I think listening to it as an audiobook is perfect-the narrator narrated a portion of one of my favorite books of 2017, Echo, and she did a wonderful job here. She’s a great narrator and really gives each character their own personality, and I really hope she narrates the sequel, Legendary, which comes out in May!
Images via Goodreads
I’m changing it up a little this week! Instead of what my kids are reading, I’m going to share a few audiobooks they’ve been enjoying listening to lately. My kids love listening to books whenever we drive: to the grocery store, school, and recently on a two-week road trip. We try out new books and books that they’ve read and want to listen to the audio version.
With school starting soon (and already started for some of you), we all need something to entertain our kids while we drive to and from school, errands, sports, etc. I think I drive more during the school year than the summer! Here’s what we’ve been loving lately!
Do you listen to audiobooks in the car? Tell me some of your favorites!
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Harry Potter might seem like an obvious choice, but I had never listened to the audio version before, and it is wonderful! Narrated by Jim Dale, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is made that much more special with fantastic accents for the different characters, music, and the very fact that I can listen to Harry Potter while I drive! It really is a nice way to revisit the story with my kids while we drive, so that we can all be read to together. (And Jim Dale does a much better Hagrid accent than me.)
Diary of a Wimpy Kid
My 8-year-old loves this series, as I’ve written many times before here. So much so that even though he has read every book in the series at least four times, he also wants to listen to them while we drive. And I have to say that the narrator, Ramon De Ocampo, is perfect for this series. The second I heard him read, I thought, “Oh, he IS Greg Heffley.” He has the sarcastic tone down perfectly, and he reads the diary entries exactly as they should be. The books are pretty quick too, and we’ve gotten through an entire book in one afternoon before. If your kids like this series, they will love the audiobooks!
Mr. Popper’s Penguins
This is a classic book that I loved as a child, and had kind of forgotten about until recently. It popped up when I was searching Overdrive for children’s audiobooks to check out, and I decided to give it a try. It’s a very simple story, and an old book, so I wasn’t sure if my kids would be interested, but they really loved it! Nick Sullivan narrates, and he has such an enthusiastic, classic voice that I think it would be hard not to love it. This is great for all ages too, from baby to adult!
I also want to include two podcasts that my kids love listening to as well, and so do I. We listen to podcasts with the app on my phone, but I know there are several other popular ways to listen to podcasts!
Sparkle Stories is both a free podcast and a subscription app. Sparkle Stories is based in Austin, TX, and consists of original stories created and told by David Sewell McCann. The podcast has a small amount of stories, and the subscription app (which we subscribe to) has a ton. My kids and I absolutely love Sparkle Stories. There are stories for every age, every occasion, every interest, everything you could think of. They are always asking for suggestions on their Facebook page, and will often craft new stories based on those requests. Our favorite stories are their superhero series, of which there are several. Give the podcast a try first and see what you think!
(This is not sponsored! Spark Stories has no idea who I am. I just love their stories and am a paying subscriber!)
Brains On! is a science podcast for kids and before you think that sounds boring, let me assure you that it is anything but boring. My kids ask to listen to this often, and the topics covered are ones that are particular interest to kids. Just a few topics: deep sea vs. outer space, monster trucks, farts (yes, really), and everything you need to know about the solar eclipse. This podcast is fun and informative, and my kids actually retain the information! (And I learn a few things too!) I couldn’t ask for anything more in a podcast, and I can’t wait to see what else they come up with.