Monday, June 6, 2011

Audio Book Review: The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place

Intended Reading Group:
Middle Grade/Young Adult

Content Screening: 

HDB Rating:
5 Keys to My Heart

Media Type: Audio Book
Title: The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling
Author: Mayrose Wood
Narrator: Katherine Kellgren
Publisher: Books on Tape
Format: Audio CD
Duration: 5:27
Source: Library

Found running wild in the forest of Ashton Place, the Incorrigibles are no ordinary children: Alexander, age ten or thereabouts, keeps his siblings in line with gentle nips; Cassiopeia, perhaps four or five, has a bark that is (usually) worse than her bite; and Beowulf, age somewhere-in-the-middle, is alarmingly adept at chasing squirrels.

Luckily, Miss Penelope Lumley is no ordinary governess. Only fifteen years old and a recent graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, Penelope embraces the challenge of her new position. Though she is eager to instruct the children in Latin verbs and the proper use of globes, first she must help them overcome their canine tendencies.

But mysteries abound at Ashton Place: Who are these three wild creatures, and how did they come to live in the vast forests of the estate? Why does Old Timothy, the coachman, lurk around every corner? Will Penelope be able to teach the Incorrigibles table manners and socially useful phrases in time for Lady Constance's holiday ball? And what on earth is a schottische?

Narrator Review:
Without a doubt, Katherine Kellgren is my favorite new narrator. This book came to life because of her narration! She has fantastic voices for each character, the best of which in my opinion is Miss Penelope Lumley herself. Even her male voices are pretty spot on! She reads at a very pleasant pace, and makes sure to emphasize things that are "proper" in the book. If I had read this rather than listened to it, I'm sure I wouldn't have enjoyed it as much. That's not to say the story isn't amazing, but hearing Kellgren howl, giggle and act proper was truly my favorite part of this book. If you can get your hands on the Audio CD, do it!

Audio Book Rating: 5/5 - I highly recommend listening to this audio book!


Book Review:
The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place is by far the most fun middle grade series that I've started so far! Yes, I made sure it was indeed a series. I'm so smitten that if it wasn't I might have thrown a tantrum. The Mysterious Howling is the first book in the series, and it sets up quite a delightful set of characters and situations. More than anything I loved how original this story was. I digress though, let's get back to sharing with you why you need to read this book.

First of all the premise of the story is fantastic. Three orphans from the woods, apparently raised by wolves, are brought to Ashton Place. The only problem? They need looking after of course! Enter Miss Penelope Lumley, one of the sweetest characters I've met in a long time with a heart that is so huge it might literally explode. She finds a fondness for the children, despite their wolfish ways, and vows to treat them as any other charges she might have had. What ensues is a funny and rollicking story, complete with quite a few twists and turns along the way!

Those of you out there who find it necessary to love your characters will find it hard to ignore Miss Penelope Lumley and her adorable charges. Ever the professional lady, Penelope spends the book musing on the wise words of her mentor, Miss Agatha Swanburne. As for the young ones, Cassiopeia, Alexander and Beowulf are massive balls of sweet energy! From the moment they enter the scene, there is fun to be had. Then there is Lady Constance, who I must say I rather disliked but I think we are meant to, and Sir Ashton who I wanted to kick. Hard. Yes, that about rounds it out! All of them are different, each one has their own fantastic personality, and I found it hard not to feel a fondness for each of them in turn.

By far, my favorite part of this story was the third person view, that mostly focused on Penelope's thoughts. Watching her ponder over what to do next, scheme at how to help the children, and even let her thoughts wander, was so fantastic. If there was ever a character that I would blindly follow into many books beyond the first, it would be her. As I mentioned above, if you can get your hands on the audio book do it! Katherine Kellgren creates a voice for Penelope that made me smile again and again.

Long story short, this is one that you need to try! If you enjoy Victorian era mysteries, or even just crave a good middle grade novel, this one is for you. The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling has snuggled its way into my heart, and I for one can not wait to dive into the next installment. 


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