August 2021
Children's/Teen Reviews
*Katherine Coville. Ivy.
Narrated by Carmen Viviano Crafts and the Full Cast Audio family.
Digital Download. 2 hours.
Full Cast Audio. 2017/2021.

In the town of Broomsweep, most of its citizens are neat and tidy, and do everything "just so." But Ivy and her grandmother are markedly different from them. Grandmother is the town healer to all creatures: human, animal, and magical. She has more important things to do than keep scrupulous order and sweep her property at least twice a day. When a contest for the most interesting town is announced by the new queen, Broomsweep's residents put tremendous pressure on Ivy and Grandmother to clean up the house and gardens and banish all the ailing creatures before the queen arrives. And then the goblins show up!

Performed by a talented full cast of all ages, this story is an entertaining romp full of magical creatures --and kindness and ingenuity in the face of trouble. Carmen Viviano Crafts serves as the book's narrator. She has extensive experience working with Full Cast Audio, and is one of this reviewer's favorite voices in Tamora Pierce's Immortals series. Haley Grogan portrays the Ivy of the title, and her sweet, clear voice is the perfect counterpart to Cynthia Bishop's kind, clever, and wry Grandmother. Honorable mentions include: Gennaro Parlato as Cedric the griffin, who continuously crash lands since a terrible incident that took one of his legs; Katie Gibson as Mistress Peevish, whose performance lives up to the character's name in a deliciously over-the-top way; Dan Bostick as Balthazar, the extremely polite dragon with a head cold! Most of the narrators will be familiar to regular listeners of Full Cast Audio titles, and this recording is perfect for elementary school aged children and above.

Reviewed by Olivia Durant

*Maureen Johnson. Box in the Woods. (Truly Devious, book 4)
Read by Kate Rudd.
Digital download. 9 hrs, 12 mins.
Harper Audio. 2021.

Stevie Bell is yesterday's news after solving the Ellingham Academy murders and is resigned to working the meat counter at the market all summer and missing her friends and boyfriend. Out of the blue she receives an offer from the new owner of Camp Wonder Falls to come and solve the box in the woods murders that took place during the summer of '78. Four camp counselors were murdered in a sensational way, but one of them was the town goodie-two-shoes and no one knows how she got mixed up in it. Along with her Ellingham Academy friends, Stevie agrees to take the case. When she gets to Barlow Corners, MA, she meets the people impacted by the case and realizes there is more to this town than murder. Will this be the case that Stevie can't solve?

Award-winning narrator Kate Rudd has been narrating audiobooks for nearly a decade. Kate does it again with this latest Truly Devious book. Having narrated the other three books in the series, Kate embodies the Stevie Bell character. You can sense Stevie's nervousness around people and her surety with the facts. Kate puts you in Stevie's head and you explore the murder right along with her. I cannot imagine anyone else voicing this character.

Reviewed by Meghan Yost

Jasper Sanchez. The (Un)Popular Vote
Read by TL Thompson.
Digital download. 11 hrs, 48 mins.
Harper Audio. 2021.

Mark Adams is content to live in his isolated world at Utopia High with his few close friends and French Club. He is just glad to able to live as himself there, even if it cost him his relationship with his father. Mark is transmasculine and is proud, but no one really knows that except his two best friends, and that is due to the contract he entered into with his Congressman father to be allowed to move and start over again a year and a half ago. No legally changing his name; hormones, but no surgery; no politics; and no one can know he is trans or who his father is. Mark's world comes crashing down when his friend from French Club is bullied by some football players for being gay. When the punishment does not fit the crime Mark feels it is his duty to step up and make his school safer and more inclusive to all. What else is there to do, but run for student body president against the wishes of his father. Will he win? Will his father disown him? Will this election cost him more than he can handle?

TL Thompson is an actor/voice actor empowering queer artists. They lent a great voice for Mark Adams. You felt his panic and belief in a better world through democracy. You were enveloped in the story and you raged and cried with Mark through his ordeals. Thompson lent an original voice to every character in the story. You were another student in Utopia High along for the ride.

Reviewed by Meghan Yost
Ray Stoeve. Between Perfect and Real.
Read by Mw Cartozian Wilson.
Digital download. 7 hrs.
Recorded Books. 2021.

Dean Foster loves the theater, and when cast as Romeo in the fall play, Dean also realizes that they are Trans. Putting on Romeo's costume solidified feelings he had been having for a while: he is a guy. But Dean is worried about how his friends, family, and lesbian girlfriend will react to this news. A real story about the inner feelings of a Trans boy coming to terms and coming out. Will his life still follow the same path he set out at the beginning of the senior year or will everything fall apart?

Reader Mw Cartozian Wilson's passion for story and love of reading inspires his work as a narrator. He brings Dean's hopes and fears into the real world. He brings his own experience into the emotions of the character. His reading of the Shakespeare portions is not the greatest, but it does not take you out of the story. Overall, this is a great audiobook for a peek into one person's coming-out story and what is really going on in their head. Wilson currently writes for NBC's hit show, Manifest.

Reviewed by Meghan Yost