Tag Archives: Audiobook

Review: Ironhand by Charlie Fletcher

Ironhand by Charlie Fletcher

Ironhand (Stoneheart #2)
Charlie Fletcher
Hodder Children’s Books
Published October 1, 2007

Amazon | Audible | Goodreads

About Ironhand

Now that George Chapman has upset the fragile truce between the warring statues of London, he has been drawn into a war that will test his mettle. He and Edie, a glint who can see the past, may have succeeded in their quest to find the Stoneheart, but their journey is far from over.

Edie and the Gunner, a statue of a World War I soldier, have been captured by the Walker, and it’s up to George to save them. But first he must deal with the three strange veins, made of marble, bronze and stone, that have begun to grow out of his hand and curl around his wrist. Legend has it that unless he successfully completes three challenges, the veins will continue up his forearm, and eventually pierce through his heart.

As George struggles to find the strength within to face the choice he has made, to take the Hard Way, he is determined to use his power for good—even as others wish to harness it for its great potential for evil.

My Review

It looks like IRONHAND is out of print, which is really sad, because I liked it a lot. I listened to the audiobook version, which is narrated by Jim Dale. His performance is, as always, fantastic.

The story begins with a section that kind of reminds readers what happened in the first book, which was perfect for me, since I read STONEHEART more than a year ago. I’ve thought about continuing the series a bunch of times since reading STONEHEART, which is usually a pretty good indicator that I’ll actually do it. If a book sticks with me the way this one has, I feel like it’s worth the investment.

I really enjoyed getting back into the London with living statues and following George, Edie, and the Gunner through a new adventure. I love Edie’s indomitable courage. She is fierce and never gives up. The thing that really struck me this time about George is the way he has the power to change things.

For example, he winds up befriending a gargoyle, whom he calls Spout. Only certain human statues are supposed to be George’s allies. Gargoyles should be working against him, but perhaps because he helps this one and gives it a name, it changes its allegiance. It begins trying to help and protect him. There was something about that relationship that struck deep for me. I loved both the story of the friendship between the two of them, but also then Spout’s role in the story. He helps George understand who he is and what he can do.

And, yet again, I love the Gunner. He’s loyal and protective and smart. Edie doesn’t really have anyone in her life she can count on. So, I feel like that makes her relationship with the Gunner even more incredible. He never stops fighting for her. I love his story in the book so much, too.

I might have liked IRONHAND better than the first one? I’m not sure. I liked it a lot, and I’m really excited to read the third book in the series now. If you like magical adventure stories like THE STORM KEEPER’S ISLAND by Catherine Doyle, you definitely need to check out this series.

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 10 up.

George and Edie are both white. Most other characters are statues.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Mild profanity used infrequently.

Romance/Sexual Content

Spiritual Content
Statues come to life and are either working to help George and Edie or harm them, depending on the nature of the statues. George is a Maker. He can magically create things from stone, but if he doesn’t fulfill his promises, he will die. Edie has the ability to see history or memories witnessed by stone or statues.

Violent Content
Situations of peril. Brief but scary battle violence.

Drug Content

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Review: Stoneheart by Charlie Fletcher

Stoneheart (Stoneheart Trilogy #1)
Charlie Fletcher
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Published May 1, 2007

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound | Goodreads

About Stoneheart

A city has many lives and layers. London has more than most. Not all the layers are underground, and not all the lives belong to the living.

Twelve-year-old George Chapman is about to find this out the hard way. When, in a tiny act of rebellion, George breaks the head from a stone dragon outside the Natural History Museum, he awakes an ancient power. This power has been dormant for centuries but the results are instant and terrifying: A stone Pterodactyl unpeels from the wall and starts chasing George. He runs for his life but it seems that no one can see what he’s running from. No one, except Edie, who is also trapped in this strange world.

And this is just the beginning as the statues of London awake
This is a story of statues coming to life; of a struggle between those with souls and those without; of how one boy who has been emotionally abandoned manages to find hope.

My Review

I listened to this story as an audiobook read by Jim Dale, and I really, really needed this book right now. I started listening to it because I couldn’t sleep, and I think Dale’s voice is particularly soothing.

At first, I kept having to listen to the same chapters over and over because I’d fall asleep. But once I got hooked on the story, I started finding time to listen to it during the day, even if it was just for ten minutes while I folded laundry or started making dinner.

I found George to be a really sympathetic character (totally reminded me of like, every downtrodden, nerdy hero from 90s kids’ movies) and Edie even more lovable. I wish there had been more clarity about her background, but I feel like she’s such a big character in the present action in the story that I almost didn’t have time to miss the backstory details.

Also, the Gunner. I mean. Has there ever been a STATUE that made such an amazing character? I want him on my team forever. I felt like there were other more minor characters– the Clocker and Dictionary for instance– that I also thought were just great.

STONEHEART is a bit of a weird book. It definitely takes some willing-suspension-of-disbelief, but I both needed and really enjoyed the escape from reality for a bit while I read this one.

I think fans of THE STORM KEEPER’S ISLAND would enjoy the clever and unique story world of STONEHEART.

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 10 up.

Main characters are white and from the UK.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Mild profanity used a couple of times.

Romance/Sexual Content

Spiritual Content
Statues come alive. Some monsters or people live under curses. A curse can only be broken by following a certain ritual.

Violent Content
Some situations of peril and frightening images, including reference to a man trying to stab a child, a man drowning a child, a monster who intends to eat a child.

Drug Content
The children hide out at a bar that’s closed.

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Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One
Ernest Cline
Random House/Random House Audio

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Orphaned and left to the care of his neglectful aunt, seventeen year-old Wade spends as much time as possible in the online virtual world of the OASIS. From virtual school to online chat rooms to video games, Wade lives most of his life and maintains his closest relationships over an internet connection. When the OASIS founder James Halliday dies, he leaves a challenge behind for the most faithful of his users: find three keys, unlock three gates, and locate the Easter egg within the OASIS. The prize: his fortune and control of the OASIS empire. Of course, everyone wants to win, but Wade, a devoted student of Halliday’s interests, knows for him, it’s the only way to survive. Once Wade uncovers the first clue, a dangerous rival threatens his life, and Wade must continue his online hunt on the run. The only way he’ll ever be free is to win the prize.

After coming across rave reviews, I listened to this novel as an audiobook, narrated by Wil Wheaton. We are a pretty pro-Wil Wheaton household: a little bit Trekkie, avid Tabletop followers, and yes, we’ve watched the recorded sessions of the Acquisitions, Inc Dungeons and Dragons games. So, needless to say, both my husband and I were excited to get into this video gamer story. We listened to it on the way to and from my cousin’s out-of-town wedding.

All the way through, I loved the narration. Wheaton’s delivery was entertaining and he seemed to really enjoy the story himself, which made it easy to enjoy hearing it. As a child of the 80s, I got a kick out of a lot of the references (some I missed… must have been too busy with My Little Pony or Jem & the Holograms.) The first quarter of the story itself really had me hooked. Here’s this kid with this big dream, and suddenly the cost of pursuing it skyrockets. Suddenly finding Halliday’s Easter egg could cost Wade his life.

But once Wade went gaga over Art3mis, I felt like the tale lost some steam. Over and over I felt like there were opportunities for conflict or tension, and instead they became long passages about how awesome Wade is and how he knows everything he needs to know, and did we mention he’s awesome? To me, those parts read like a fantasy as opposed to a story. So that kind of dampened my enthusiasm a bit.

Still, the overall mechanism of the contest and the big inevitable showdown between the gunters and the black-hearted IOI guru made for an exciting climax. I liked that Wade’s friends are not who he thinks they are. A bit of that reveal may have bordered on being preachy, but the overall message – that the internet is sort of the new marketplace, and despite the fact that an avatar’s appearance bears no connection to the gamer’s real face, certain kinds of people get preferential treatment. I liked that Cline went there and respected that he took the opportunity to challenge stereotypes.

Despite the slow middle, Ready Player One was a really fun read. I highly recommend the audiobook version.

Language Content
Extreme profanity used throughout the story. More frequently in the first half than the second half.

Sexual Content
References to the main character being a virgin. There are places to visit within the Oasis in which players can purchase virtual companionship and use a doll to simulate sexual experiences. There aren’t really any details describing the process. The main character goes through a brief period in which he’s desperate enough to try this, but feels ashamed later.

Spiritual Content
Gunters sort of treat Halliday’s book as a holy text. Not in the sense of worshipping him per se, but more like the quest has that much importance.

Bad guys blow up a trailer park full of innocent people and toss a gamer off the balcony of his apartment building to his death. Virtual battles take place within the Oasis. Nothing is described in gory detail.

Drug Content

Random Trivia
Spielberg (who is mentioned in the book) will be directing the film version of Ready Player One, which is set to be released in December 2017. Also, to celebrate the release of the paperback version of his book, Ernest Cline hosted a contest inspired by the story in which participants had to locate an Easter egg within the story and unlock gates to reach a final victory. The prize, a Delorean was awarded to the winner, Craig Queen.