Up, Up, and Away!

Let’s talk about audiobooks again for moment. Recently I raved about Kenneth Oppel’s book, Airborn. Well, I’ve just finished listening to the other two books in the series: Skybreaker and Starclimber. I’m giving both of these books 5 stars on Goodreads because they were both such great adventures that I could enjoy listening to more than once.

So, here’s the thing I want to comment about regarding listening to audiobooks. Tell me if I’ve said this already. When reading a physical book all by myself, it is easy to stop and take notes, capture quotes, and look up new words. When reading with my children, this is a little harder, just because I don’t want my “audience” to grow impatient with me while I add notes about our book into my Bookly app. Audiobooks are even more of a challenge, because I’m usually driving when listening to an audiobook, so typing notes into my phone is pretty much out of the question. Now, I want you to comment below if you have a suggestion on how to capture thoughts about audiobooks books – especially while driving.

I did find recently that I can add a bookmark in the Libby app, which then allows me to enter notes associated with that bookmark. My phone will allow me to dictate my thoughts into the bookmark’s notes field. Of course, with road noise and the like, it doesn’t always hear what I’m saying. What do I do guys? I need your help!

For the reasons I have just mentioned, I don’t have quotes to share with you for these books, but I’ll do my best to talk intelligently about them, and hopefully spark your interest to look them up so that you too can enjoy them.


Skybreaker

By Kenneth Oppel

Rating: 5 out of 5.

In Skybreaker, Matt Cruse and Kate de Vries go an epic adventure that takes them high into the Earth’s atmosphere where the air is very thin and bitterly cold. Matt, now a student at the Airship Academy, is honing his navigating skills aboard a small airship when it becomes swept away with a terrible storm.

The storm takes them high into the sky where they are ill-prepared to go. In fact, the crew of the ship nearly dies! But, while they are in the storm, they catch sight of a ghost ship – the Hyperion – a ship that has been lost aloft for 40 years. The ship is fabled to have untold riches aboard, so when Matt returns to the academy, it isn’t long before he is approached by several individuals looking to return to the Hyperion to recover the wealth that is certain to be aboard.

Not only are their lives threatened by the harsh elements they face at 20,000 feet, but they are also pursued by mercenaries hired to destroy the Hyperion. It seems impossible that Matt and Kate will survive their adventure! Will they recover the old ship and the wonderful mysteries that it carries? Will they escape the mercenaries? Will they find anything of value that might help to cover the costs of all they have lost on their journey? The only way to know is to listen to this audiobook or go find a copy of the book to read right away! Believe me, you don’t want to miss this one.


Starclimber

By Kenneth Oppel

Rating: 5 out of 5.

In the conclusion of the Matt Cruse series, Matt and Kate get the opportunity of a lifetime! They go higher than they ever thought was possible – into space! This story has some of my absolute favorite things in it: airships, really tall buildings, and a space elevator.

I shared my interest in airships with you the other day – how I would love to start a company that gives tours around the country (and around the world) in airships. Not designed for speed, cruises aboard an airship would be all about seeing things from a new perspective while traveling in luxury.

In Starclimber, Matt has a summer job as the “captain” of a floating crane – an airship used to haul materials to heights not reachable by ground-based cranes.  France has undertaken the greatest engineering challenges the world has ever seen – a tower designed to reach outer space. This new tower, which is described to be similar in design to the Eiffel Tower, would have platforms Evenly spaced along its height as it reaches to the upper atmosphere, large enough be like small cities. The tower was certain to help mankind reach the heavens. Matt’s aero-crane was carrying building materials to the top of the tower, helping it to grow another 50 ft in the sky every day. At nearly 2 miles already, the tower was being called a modern wonder of the world!

While the French tower may make today’s Burj Kalifa look like a toy, the French were unaware that Canada had already sent a rocket into the stars which trailed a ribbon in its wake. The ribbon was firmly anchored to the Earth while the other end was now connected to a counterweight in geo-synchronous orbit. Matt and Kate are asked to be a part of the crew that will “sail” aboard the first spaceship, the Starclimber. This new ship was designed to climb the ribbon, through the atmosphere and into outer space where the crew could photograph and catalog any strange new wonders they discover along the way.

Of course, it wouldn’t be an adventure if everything were to go smoothly. Expect some tragedy to befall the crew of the Starclimber which will leave you wondering how they could possibly survive!

One other notable topic in this book is that Kate is proclaimed to be a Suffragette. She makes some questionable decisions that put both her and Matt’s participation in the first space voyage at risk, but it may spark some interesting conversation with whomever you read/listen to this book with. For those of you that may not know, the Suffragettes were a women’s movement calling for equal rights for women, particularly the right to vote in political elections. I’m no history buff, so I won’t pretend to know any more than that.

The other thing that really stood out to me in this book, but really all throughout the series, is how Matt and Kate treat one another. They clearly have feelings for one another, but they are extremely hesitant to speak honestly with one another to tell the other how they really feel. I think that Oppel is actually quite brilliant in the way he shaped these two characters and their relationship because there is a realism to it. They don’t dote on another. In fact, they scarcely admit, even to themselves, that they are in a relationship. They don’t hold back their proverbial punches. At times you’ll be thinking, “Yep, it’s over between these two. There’s no coming back from that one.”

Kate is just plain selfish. She places her desire to be a strong, independent woman, and her desire to attend university and to build a career as a zoologist above all else, including her, dare I call it “love” for Matt. There is nothing wrong with the things Kate is wanting to accomplish with her life, it’s the way in which she pursues them that is a concern.

Matt is a stereotypical mid-to-late-teens dude. He quickly assumes he knows Kate’s mind. That’s the problem. He assumes. Instead of talking to her, he draws conclusions based on what she has said, what she hasn’t said, and the choices she makes and thinks he has her all figured out. Well, news-flash, Matt. You don’t! Stop making assumptions and just talk to her!

I get it though. Both of them are young and are trying to find their way in the world. They are trying to figure out what they believe and what they want to make of their lives. When Matt and Kate do talk, it still doesn’t always go that smoothly, because they haven’t really figured out what they want yet. Ahh, young love! Everything new and terrifying and confusing and wonderful…

Behind the Scenes with the crew of Full Cast Audio

Well, if I haven’t already, I hope that I have convinced you to find a copy of Airborn, Skybreaker, and Starclimber. Whether you choose to read the books or listen to the audiobooks, I really believe that you and the young readers in your life will enjoy these adventures.

Do you I know of another series like the one I have described here that you would like to share with us? Tell us about it in the comments below, use the Contact page on this site, or see below for our email and social media information.

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