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Publisher's Summary

As her fingers move across the strings of her family's heirloom harp, 16-year-old Clarion can forget. She doesn't dwell on the recent passing of her beloved father or the fact that her mother has just sold everything they owned, including that very same instrument that gives Clarion life. She doesn't think about how her friends treat her like a feeble, brittle thing to be protected. She doesn't worry about how to tell the elegant Elena, her best friend and first love, that she doesn't want to be her sweetheart anymore. She becomes the melody and loses herself in the song.
When Mack, a lord's dashing young son, rides into town so his father and Elena's can arrange a marriage between the two youth, Clarion finds herself falling in love with a boy for the first time. Drawn to Clarion's music, Mack puts Clarion and Elena's relationship to the test, but he soon vanishes by climbing up a giant beanstalk that only Clarion has seen. When even the town witch won't help, Clarion is determined to rescue Mack herself and prove once and for all that she doesn't need protecting. But while she fancied herself a savior, she couldn't have imagined the enormous world of danger that awaits her in the kingdom of the clouds.
A prequel to the fairytale Jack and the Beanstalk that reveals the true story behind the magical singing harp.
©2017 Amy McNulty (P)2017 Amy McNulty
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Customer Reviews

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By HeatherY on 07-28-17

Imaginative Fairy Tale Retelling

This fairy tale retelling tells the story of the magical golden harp in Jack and the Beanstalk. Clarion is the daughter of a pig farmer, one of a trio of friends, and a harpist that can capture listeners' hearts. After her father's death, her mother resorts to selling all of their possessions, including Clarion's beloved harp. While playing her harp for the last time at the Mayor's ball, Clarion and a visiting lord's son discover a giant beanstalk growing in a witch's garden and the adventure begins!

I love fairy tale retellings, and I've never read a Jack and the Beanstalk story before. The author created an interesting world and characters. I liked that the sexuality of the characters was presented as matter of fact without labels. I actually preferred Elena to the main character, and sympathized with her when she realized that Clarion had feelings for a man, and she was alone.

The plot was interesting, but every new reveal had to be explained to Clarion in detail, so every twist consisted of another character telling Clarion, 'No, THIS is why that happened'. Clarion asked all the right questions, but instead of being addressed, they were ignored. I'd love to hear more about why the little people didn't know about the giants, and where Jacosa's magic came from.

The narrator read dramatically and with feeling. Instead of reciting songs, she sang them, and it was really well done. I was provided a copy of the audiobook, and I'm voluntarily leaving a review.

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By DabOfDarkness on 10-07-17

A fun LBGTQ friendly fracture fairytale

Clarion is our quiet, determined hero of this story. She’s on the cusp of adulthood and this adventure will catapult her into life with several decisive actions. I really liked her character. She’s had a pretty stable if downward spiraling life up until recently. She and her mom are facing poverty. With her dad deceased, it’s up to her and her mom to make ends meet. I was right beside Clarion in her grief over her mom’s decision to sell the last of the pigs. However I do wonder why Clarion thought Royce and Raymond would keep their little pig farm going. I’m pretty sure Clarion understood that it takes male and female pigs to get a new generation of piglets… but her inner monologue on these two boy pigs says she doesn’t. That was the first little thing that didn’t make sense with this tale.

Note: I have since learned that it’s Royse (as in Medieval version of Rose). The author shared that little tidbit with me which is great since I didn’t pick up on the spelling with this audioversion.

Over all, I enjoyed this story. With that said, there are several small points (like the pig issue mentioned above) that show this tale could have used a little polishing. Clarion’s mom comes off as a bit of a harpy at first but then her character becomes softer, more approachable. But then we quickly move on with the rest of the story, so I can’t say which version of Clarion’s mom was the more realistic. These are just two examples of small points that sometimes contradicted each other.

Anyhoo, Clarion has a social gathering to get ready for and that involves first cleaning the Mayor’s house and then borrowing someone’s dress. Her beloved harp (a big awkward thing) may not be her’s for much longer. Both Clarion and I were sad about this. But we are given little time to cry over that because there’s a big beanstalk!

From this point forward, things get a bit predictable. The story still has a charm to it but I was not surprised by anything. Up in the clouds, there’s a domineering bully of a giant along with other giants. The characters travel up and down the various beanstalks while they attempt to resolve all the conflicts. The witch Jacosa plays a key role in these beanstalks and in shrinking and enlarging various characters; her herbs and magical beans provide the backbone for this tale.

Now I really did like that Clarion is having to muddle through her romantic feelings in the midst of all this. She and Elena have been friends for years and perhaps a little more. However, in the recent months, Clarion isn’t sure she feels that way about Elena any longer. Then a new young man comes to town, Mack, and Clarion feels her first little crush on a boy. I loved that her blossoming feelings for a potential heterosexual relationship doesn’t diminish her past homosexual feelings for Elena. Two thumb ups for this aspect of the story despite some ridiculous insta-love later on in the tale.

Now the ending is a bit of a cliffhanger so I hope there will be a sequel, otherwise Clarion will be stuck in an uncomfortable disposition forever. All told, it was Clarion that carried me through the story. I was attached to her even with the tale being a bit predictable.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Amy McNulty. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

Narration: Kaitlin Descutner did a very good job with this story. She had the perfect young lady voice for Clarion. There was singing! Yes, indeed! Descutner pulled this off really well. Not all narrators can easily work in a bit of singing and Descutner did not disappoint. Her male voices were believable and all her characters were distinct. There were no technical issues with the recording.

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Customer Reviews

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By Layla on 10-17-17

Ballad of theBeanstalk

This is the type of book I like to read, however this one didn't do it for me.
The main character is biosexual. I got a bit of a shock when she called her best friend sweetheart, only because I was not expecting it. The author tells us how she came to love her friend however I didn't feel her love for her at all. I don't know if this is what the author wanted us to feel since the main character was falling out of love with her. She then falls in love with a guy she meets. That relationship I also didn't believe because it was too quick on both sides.
However, I could have lived with this if the main character had a backbone. She is a coward, others walked all over her and they always save her. She really annoyed me!! She says she cares for the guy, you would think that she would have followed him when he went to a place he shouldn't have. She took ages to make up her mind and by the time she did she fell. I expected her to pick herself up and do it again quickly so she can catch up with him but no, that was wishful thinking on my part.

I thought the narrator did a good job on acting out each fcharacter however this book isn't for me. Others might like it.

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

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By micki on 07-29-17

Something a little different

Where does Ballad of the Beanstalk rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

"This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this voluntary review.Ballad of the Beanstalk was a little different from what I normally listen to/read. I enjoyed it very much, as the narrator was very talented and projected quite well.

Would you recommend Ballad of the Beanstalk to your friends? Why or why not?

I would recommend this book to my friends

Have you listened to any of Kaitlin Descutner’s other performances? How does this one compare?

I had not heard Kaitlin Descutner perform before, but will look for her on other projects.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The beginning was handled very well while attempting to be delicate with the relationship between the traditional roles of the best friend.

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