For my ears: The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas; Read by Phoebe Strole

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Description via Amazon/Audible:

Sharp, brilliantly plotted, and totally engrossing.” (Karen M. McManus, New York Times best-selling author of One of Us Is Lying)

“A crafty, dark, and disturbing story.” (Kathleen Glasgow, New York Times best-selling author of Girl In Pieces)

“A little bit Riverdale and a little bit Veronica Mars.” (Riley Sager, best-selling author of Final Girls, a Goodreads Best Young Adult Book of the Year Nominee)

From the author of The Darkest Corners and Little Monsters comes an all-new edge-of-your-seat thriller set in upstate New York about an eerie sequence of seemingly unrelated events that leaves five cheerleaders dead.

There are no more cheerleaders in the town of Sunnybrook. First there was the car accident – two girls dead after hitting a tree on a rainy night. Not long after, the murders happened. Those two girls were killed by the man next door. The police shot him, so no one will ever know his reasons.

Monica’s sister was the last cheerleader to die. After her suicide, Sunnybrook High disbanded the cheer squad. No one wanted to be reminded of the girls they’d lost. That was five years ago. Now the faculty and students at Sunnybrook High want to remember the lost cheerleaders. But for Monica, it’s not that easy. She just wants to forget. Only, Monica’s world is starting to unravel. There are the letters in her stepdad’s desk, an unearthed, years-old cell phone, a strange new friend at school. . . .

Whatever happened five years ago isn’t over. Some people in town know more than they’re saying. And somehow, Monica is at the center of it all. There are no more cheerleaders in Sunnybrook, but that doesn’t mean anyone else is safe.

More praise for Kara Thomas:

“Gripping from start to finish…with twists that left me shocked.” (Victoria Aveyard, number-one New York Times best-selling author of Red Queen)

“You’ll be up all night tearing through the pages.” (BUSTLE)

“This deliciously deceptive thriller…is a must-have.” (SLJ)

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I love these YA thriller novels- they are my guilty pleasure! This was a well-crafted story that kept me guessing (and listening!). The ultimate compliment for an audiobook is when I can drive the 75 minutes to work and then want to stay in the car to keep listening!

I’ve read other Kara Thomas novels and she’s a talented writer, with a penchant for capturing the harsh realities of teenage life. Her characters are believable. They may be likable (or not).

This story was told in present day and in flashback, which can be tricky while listening, but it was clear to me and never confusing. The voices were distinct.

I got mine with an audible credit via Amazon!

Audiobook Pick: The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris; Narrated by Richard Armitage

 

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I had heard a bit about this book, so I chose it with my Audible credit this month. What a story! First of all, it held my attention during my lengthy commute (no easy feat) and it was wonderfully narrated by Richard Armitage. The story was truly remarkable and at one point I thought that this could not possibly be true. Some of the things that happened seemed fantastic to the point of being too incredible to believe (SPOILER! for example, their finding each other after the war, or how Lale seemed to be able to get the things he needed to get by and to help others). Yet, this is a true story. While it is a story of the horrors of Auschwitz, it’s an amazing story of bravery and resistance and resiliency that makes you feel connected to these characters and wanting more of them. The last chapter and epilogue of the book could have been a whole other novel in itself. (Just a note, from a cursory glance online, most people seem to enjoy the audiobook more than the novel itself).

Here’s the overview:

This beautiful, illuminating tale of hope and courage is based on interviews that were conducted with Holocaust survivor and Auschwitz-Birkenau tattooist Ludwig (Lale) Sokolov – an unforgettable love story in the midst of atrocity.

In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, is forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors discover he speaks several languages, he is put to work as a Tätowierer (the German word for “tattooist”), tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners.

Imprisoned for more than two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism – but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. Risking his own life, he uses his privileged position to exchange jewels and money from murdered Jews for food to keep his fellow prisoners alive.

One day in July 1942, Lale, prisoner 32407, comforts a trembling young woman waiting in line to have the number 34902 tattooed onto her arm. Her name is Gita, and in that first encounter, Lale vows to somehow survive the camp and marry her.

A vivid, harrowing, and ultimately hopeful recreation of Lale Sokolov’s experiences as the man who tattooed the arms of thousands of prisoners with what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust, The Tattooist of Auschwitz is also a testament to the endurance of love and humanity under the darkest possible conditions.

Quick Audiobook Review: “World without End” by Ken Follett

I loved the book and miniseries “Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follett, so I was thrilled to find the audiobook for its sequel, “World without End”, at the library (read by John Lee).

While this story takes place in Kingsbridge, the town that is the setting for “Pillars of the Earth”, it stands alone as a novel, being set 200 years later and with new characters (though references are sometimes made to the previous characters).

The story starts with four children, playing in the woods. They witness a murder and a secret, and this event sets the stage for the events of their lives, which are chronicled. Follett draws us a picture of Medieval England that is vivid and accurate. His characters are unique and the main characters are all quite different. I listened to this story in the car while driving and still could easily follow the plot (which was definitely not for the kids at times!). John Lee’s narration was a great touch to the story; he excels at providing unique character voices.

All in all, a great story!