Book: Everless by Sara Holland, Narrated by Eileen Stevens

Book: Everless by Sara Holland, Narrated by Eileen Stevens

Published January 2018 by HarperAudio|Length: 9 hours, 59 minutes

Where I Got It: I borrowed the audio book from the library

Series: Everless #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

In the kingdom of Sempera, time is currency—extracted from blood, bound to iron, and consumed to add time to one’s own lifespan. The rich aristocracy, like the Gerlings, tax the poor to the hilt, extending their own lives by centuries.

No one resents the Gerlings more than Jules Ember. A decade ago, she and her father were servants at Everless, the Gerlings’ palatial estate, until a fateful accident forced them to flee in the dead of night. When Jules discovers that her father is dying, she knows that she must return to Everless to earn more time for him before she loses him forever.

But going back to Everless brings more danger—and temptation—than Jules could have ever imagined. Soon she’s caught in a tangle of violent secrets and finds her heart torn between two people she thought she’d never see again. Her decisions have the power to change her fate—and the fate of time itself.

I really liked Everless!  I really liked the idea of time being currency, and how how they go about getting time from people.

Some of the characters weren’t what I expected.  You think you know who the goods guys and the bad guys are, and then you’re taken off guard because people are not what you thought.  It did make the book interesting, because I liked that things weren’t what they seemed.

I also really liked the world-building.  It was a little confusing at times, particularly towards the end, but I think a lot of it is probably because I was listening to the audio.  I felt like I needed to write it down to figure it out, which would have been a bad idea because I was driving.  Maybe I’ll check out the print version and re-read it to see if it makes more sense.  Anyway, I did like that we learned things as Jules learned things, and I think that’s why things weren’t what they seemed.  At the same time, though, I think it also made things feel a little bit muddles because I wasn’t completely sure what was going on mythology wise.  And I think there is a lot to explore, so hopefully we’ll learn more in the next book.

Jules is definitely different.  There were times I thought she was really reckless, and she did put herself in harm’s way on more than one occasion.  I have the feeling not everyone will like her, and while I didn’t hate her, I also didn’t love her.  I felt bad for her, but overall, I think I’m neutral towards her.  I did like the friendship she had with Ina, and she didn’t seem jealous of her, considering Ina was set to marry Rowan.  That was nice for a change, because I feel like it would have been really easy to do the complete opposite.

The book did feel a little slow at times, particularly in the middle, but I got through it.  I thought Eileen Stevens did a great job narrating.  I did feel like she was Jules, and she did pretty well with the different voices.  While I’m not running out and adding everything she’s narrated to my audible wish list, I also wouldn’t mind listening to a book she’s narrated if it was something I wanted to read.

4 stars.  I really liked Everless, though I thought some of the world-building/mythology a little confusing. I’d still recommend Everless, and the concept is pretty cool.

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Book Review: American Street by Ibi Zoboi, Narrated by Robin Miles

Book: American Street by Ibi Zoboi, Narrated by Robin Miles

Published February 2017 by HaperAudio|Length: 8 hours, 35 minutes

Where I Got It: I own the audio book

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

The rock in the water does not know the pain of the rock in the sun.

On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie—a good life.

But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the grittiness of Detroit’s west side; a new school; and a surprising romance, all on her own.

Just as she finds her footing in this strange new world, a dangerous proposition presents itself, and Fabiola soon realizes that freedom comes at a cost. Trapped at the crossroads of an impossible choice, will she pay the price for the American dream?

I really liked American Street, and I’m especially glad that I went with the audio book!

I liked Fabiola- she’s a great character and I really felt for her.  I loved following her as she navigated life in Detroit without her mother.  From living with her cousins, to the people in their lives, to trying to be reunited with her mother…there were times where I felt so heartbroken over everything these girls had to deal with.  Things weren’t easy for any of them, but they really did the best they could.

I thought the romance was interesting, and there was one moment in particular that was absolutely heartbreaking, especially on audio.  Robin Miles is amazing as the narrator, and I felt like she was Fabiola.  You could hear the emotion Fabiola felt, not just at that moment, but during many different moments.  I really felt like I was experiencing things alongside Fabiola.  Still, while I liked Kasim, I would have been fine with less romance, considering everything else going on with both Fabiola and her cousins.  Still, their romance was cute, and it felt…natural, and not insta-love.

I could have sworn I had listened to more books by Robin Miles, but apparently not.  Maybe I just have a bunch of books narrated by her that I haven’t listened to?  At any rate, she can certainly narrate a story, and now I want to listen to some of the other books she’s narrated.

There were times where I thought Fabiola was in over her head, and I was muttering about how she probably shouldn’t be doing what she was planning on doing.  I had the feeling it wouldn’t end well, and even then, I had no idea where things would go.  She did mean well, and she really did have the best of intentions.  To a certain degree, I don’t think she realized how badly things would go, and I think she is a bit naive at times as well.  There is a lot she didn’t know, but she is pretty observant, and when it comes down to it, it was interesting to see things through her eyes.

While the book doesn’t focus on immigration as much as I thought, and while we don’t see a lot of Fabiola trying to get reunited with her mother, I still really liked seeing her adjust to life in Detroit.  We don’t see a lot of her aunt, but I really liked her cousins and the relationship she had with them.  They really looked out for her, and they did seem really protective but it was obvious they cared about her.

Another thing I really liked was her faith.  She practices Voudou, and it didn’t seem stereotypical at all, which was nice.  It was important to her, and other than one moment where her boyfriend thought she put a spell on him, it was seen/treated like any other religion.

Along with Fabiola coming to the US, we see drug dealing/drug abuse and relationship abuse, amongst other things.  I can’t say this enough, but Fabiola is amazing- she is determined to do the right thing, and she is such a strong, kind-hearted person.  I felt her loss at being separated from her mother, and happy at the thought that she might be reunited with her in the end.  Both she and her cousins are doing the best they can, and while things aren’t completely wrapped up, I feel confident that things will work for Fabiola and her family.

4 stars.  I didn’t love American Street, but it’s a great read.  If audio books are your thing, I’d definitely go with the audio, because Robin Miles did an excellent job at narrating.

Book Review: The Upside Of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli, Narrated by Arielle DiLisle And The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West

Book: The Upside Of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli, Narrated by Arielle DiLisle

Published April 2017 by HarperAudio|Length: 7 hours, 58 minutes

Where I Got It: I borrowed the audio book from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love–she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often but always in secret, because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness–except for the part where she is.Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny, flirtatious, and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss, and she’ll get her twin back.There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him–right?

I really liked The Upside Of Unrequited!  It’s a really cute romance, and I really liked Molly.  I wasn’t the biggest fan of her sister, Cassie, who I thought was rude and irritating and she totally treated Molly like dirt.  And Molly let her.  But Molly was really cool otherwise, and so I’m glad the book was narrated by her.  Better her than Cassie, because I don’t think I could take it if the book were about Cassie instead.

Molly was really easy to relate to, and she was so easy to relate to.  I can’t relate to how many crushes she’s had, and while I will fangirl over certain pairings in the books I read, I’m not the hopeless romantic she is.  But the fact that she felt like everyone around her was growing up and that she wasn’t?  That was very easy to relate to.  She’s just at a different point in her life, and she’s not less of a person just because she wasn’t experiencing things at the same time that her sister and her friends were experiencing them.

Molly did seem shy and anxious but it wasn’t seen as a bad thing.  And while her sister seemed to believe that Molly needed to put herself out there, her shyness never seemed to be shamed.  Putting yourself out there can be hard, especially if your shy and anxious, but again, everyone does that at different points in their life.  Just because Cassie does it, doesn’t mean Molly has to do it at the exact same time.

Still, she seemed really uncomfortable with the idea of kissing or actually talking a guy or basically anything relating to relationships.  And yet, there seems to be this determination for her to be kissed and to have a boyfriend.  If that’s what she wants, that’s totally cool, but she just seemed really uncomfortable with it all.  I kind of got the sense that it was to say she had done it, and so that she felt like she was experiencing what everyone else was.

It wasn’t quite as funny or nerdy as Simon, of course, and I didn’t like it quite as much, though I still liked it.  Apparently not as much as other people seemed to like The Upside Of Unrequited.

I did like it as an audio book, and Arielle DeLisle was a good choice as narrator.  I could definitely picture Molly sounding like her.

My Rating: 3 stars.  I liked it, but not a lot.

Book: The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West

Published May 2015 by HarperTeen|346 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the paperback from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

When Gia Montgomery’s boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she’d been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend—two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley.

The problem is that days after prom, it’s not the real Bradley she’s thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn’t even know. But tracking him down doesn’t mean they’re done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend’s graduation party—three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.

Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship. 

I like that her books are, for the most part, cute, light, fluffy romances.  They’re good reads for spring and summer, but I think I might have overdone it with them recently, because this was not one of favorites.  I mean, I liked it, but it’s one of my least favorites.  At least, as far as her contemporary novels go.

There’s the mean girl drama, of course, and it’s your typical rom-com in book form.  I knew how the story would end, especially with both the drama and the romance.  It was entertaining, though, and I didn’t hate it.  I also didn’t love it, so we’re settling for like.  I knew what to expect going into this book, and if I’m ever in the mood for some predictable but also cute and light, her books are the way to go.

Honestly, though, I don’t have much else to say, so onto my rating, I suppose.  It’s your typical Kasie West book, and it’s good if you want something light and fluffy.

My Rating: 3 stars.  I liked it, and it’s a cute book, though it is predictable.

Book Review: Lady Renegades by Rachel Hawkins And Rapture By Lauren Kate, Narrated By Justine Eyre

Book: Lady Renegades by Rachel Hawkins

Published April 2016 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Book For Young Readers|264 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Rebel Belle #3

Genre: YA Paranormal

Just as Harper Price starts coming to terms with her role as David Stark’s battle-ready Paladin, protector, and girlfriend—her world goes crazy all over again.

Overwhelmed by his Oracle powers, David flees Pine Grove and starts turning teenage girls into Paladins—and these young ladies seem to think that Harper is the enemy David needs protecting from.  Ordinarily, Harper would be able to fight off any Paladin who comes her way, but her powers have been dwindling since David left town…which means her life is on the line yet again.

New York Times bestselling author Rachel Hawkins brings the fun once again in the finale of this pitch-perfect romantic paranormal comedy series.

I didn’t like Lady Renegades as much as I thought.  I did like it, but it’s been so long since I first started this series that I had some trouble remembering what had happened, and how we got here.  I did re-read the first book a few months ago, and never got around to re-reading the second one, so I was a little bit confused about what was going on.

Thankfully, we do get just enough that I was able to figure out, but it didn’t stop me from wishing that I had re-read the series before reading this one.

I did feel for Harper, who had a lot to figure out.  She had some tough decisions to make, and I can’t imagine being put into the position that she would need to make those decisions.  She did it, though, and yet…things still worked out, though not in a way I expected.  Part of me wishes that we had a little more at the end, to see how things really worked out, but at the same time, I think knowing would have taken away from it a little bit.  Harper did change a lot, and from what I remember from the first book…let’s just say that Book 1 Harper would not have done the things that Book 3 Harper did.

My Rating: 3 stars.  I liked it, and I liked seeing the changes in Harper.  I don’t have much else to say about this book, but it wasn’t as action-packed as I thought, considering it’s both the final book in a trilogy and a book about Paladins.

Book: Rapture by Lauren Kate, Narrated by Justine Eyre

Published June 2012 by Listening Library|Length: 11 hours, 40 minutes

Where I Got It: I borrowed the audio book from the library

Series: Fallen #4

Genre: YA Paranormal

The sky is dark with wings…

Like sand through an hourglass, time is running out for Luce and Daniel. To stop Lucifer from erasing the past, they must find the place where the angels fell to earth.

Dark forces are after them, and Daniel doesn’t know if he can do this — live only to lose Luce again and again. Yet together they face an epic battle that will end with lifeless bodies…and angel dust. Great sacrifices are made. Hearts are destroyed.

And suddenly Luce knows what must happen. For she was meant to be with someone other than Daniel. The curse they’ve borne has always and only been about her — and the love she cast aside. The choice she makes now is the only one that truly matters.

In the fight for Luce, who will win?

Rapture is the astonishing conclusion to the Fallen series. Heaven can’t wait any longer.

Goodness, this book was a struggle to get through.  It took me weeks, because I’d listen to 15 or 20 minutes at a time, and then stop because I was bored out of my mind.  This was not a good book to do on audio.

For one thing, there was no action.  Everything moved at a snail’s pace, which is not what I want in a series finale.  It was boring, and absolutely nothing happened.  I feel like a lot of the series finales I’ve read recently have been really boring.

Everything’s coming to a conclusion, and even though the book took place over the course about 9 days, it felt like so much longer.  Everything was in excruciating detail, a lot of which was unnecessary.  Unfortunately, I had no option to speed it up or skim, because I went with the audio and had no option to adjust the speed.  I suppose that is what I get for going with a physical copy of the audio book.

While this wasn’t the choice content wise, the narrator was actually great.  I’ve listened to a few books narrated by Eyre before, and she’s a pretty good narrator.  I think that was one of the few things about this book that I actually liked.

I did like Dee, who I thought was a really cool and interesting character.  It’s too bad we also had her around for a little bit.

Other than Eyre’s narration and Dee, there’s not much I actually liked about Rapture.  I already talked about how slow the book is, but Luce is an idiot, and Daniel is a terrible angel.  I’d say person, normally, but that doesn’t really fit.  He seems like such an ass, and I don’t get Luce’s interest in him.  He’s too moody and angsty, and it was just annoying.  I had no interest in their relationship…and to be honest Cam (or maybe even Lucifer, if you want to take in some of what happens at the end) would be a better choice for Luce.  Or least, a choice that’s not annoying.

Luce, more often than not, does seem like she’s too stupid to live.  That’s not a phrase I use often (if at all), but it somehow seems appropriate.  There was a point with Dee that I thought was going to turn out very differently, and I was yelling at Luce to not go outside without an explanation.  It didn’t go the way I thought, but there were so many secrets that were being kept from her that I was really irritated.  With a lot of characters.

Not really Cam, because he did try to warn Luce, but no, that girl was blind in her determination to do whatever Daniel and everyone else wanted.  She didn’t question anything at all, and I really wanted her to be less passive.  She was a little proactive, I suppose, but not really.

You’d think, this being the 4th book and all, she would have changed at least a little.  But she’s still the same clueless Luce we saw in Fallen.  After everything she’s seen and remembered, I would have expected at least some sort of change from Luce.  But alas, nothing.

One interesting thing is that, in comparison to a lot of other books out there that are about angels, this one is somehow more…religious.  It’s not preachy or anything like that, but the mythology or theology (or whatever you want to call it) is very different than what I usually associate with angels.  It’s more biblical, I suppose, though it’s been ages and ages since I’ve gone to church.  So I could be wrong, but that’s what I was reminded of for most of this series.  I liked it enough, I suppose, though not enough to have wanted to see more of it.

My Rating: 2 stars.  It was hard to listen to because it was moved very slow, and it was pretty boring.  I definitely lost interest by the end, and the last couple of hours of it ended up being background noise.

Book Review: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon, Narrated by Sneha Mathan & Vikas Adam

Book Review: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon, narrated by Sneha Mathan & Vikas Adam

Published May 2017 by Dreamscape Media|Length: 10 hours, 45 minutes

Where I Got It: I own the audio book

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Now that Dimple Shah has graduated, she’s ready for a break from her family – especially from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the Ideal Indian Husband. Ugh. But Dimple knows that her mother must respect that she isn’t interested in doing that right now – otherwise she wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers, right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic, so when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him – during which he’ll have to woo her – he’s totally onboard. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself. Although their parents hadn’t planned suggesting the arrangement so soon, when their kids signed up for the same summer program, they figured why not?

I really liked When Dimple Met Rishi!  It’s a cute rom-com, and I’m glad I finally got around to reading it.  Well, listening in this case.

Actually, let’s start off with When Dimple Met Rishi as an audio book.  Usually I talk about that part last, for some reason, but since I’ve already mentioned that I listened to it, I might as well talk about it now.

I really liked it as an audio book, and I have the slightest feeling that had I read it, I probably wouldn’t have liked it as much.  I could picture Rishi and Dimple really well, and while I’ve never listened to anything narrated by either Mathan or Adams, I thought they did pretty well narrating both Dimple and Rishi respectively.  In particular, I really liked Mathan’s narration of Dimple’s chapters and she really captured who Dimple is as a person.  It’s not that Adams didn’t do the same for Rishi, because he did.  I just don’t think he did it to the degree that Mathan did with Dimple.

I think part of it is that I liked Dimple a lot more than Rishi.  Dimple is definitely spirited and determined and she knows what she wants.  Is she whiny and stuck-up?  Sure, but hopefully that will change as she gets olders.  She and Rishi do balance each other out, since Rishi is a loyal, hopeless romantic who wants everyone around him to be happy.  He’s more of a people-pleaser than Dimple ever will be, though I did find him a little more boring and unmemorable.

I admit that at first, I thought Rishi was a little pathetic.  He was really into the idea of an arranged marriage, and like I said, he’s a hopeless romantic.  He, especially at the beginning, was a lot more interested in Dimple, and things were definitely one-sided.  It’s mostly because Rishi knew, and Dimple didn’t, that they were a possible match. We do see why Rishi acts the way he does, and I slowly started to change my mind because of that.

There is one other reason why I changed my mind about Rishi.  It’s not fair to him that I saw him as a pathetic, hopeless romantic.  If the tables were turned, and if it were Dimple acting that way, would I have the same reaction?  No, probably not, because a big part of my reaction to Rishi at first was because Rishi’s a guy, and it’s not fair that I’m deciding how he should and should not act.  And as the book goes on, we do see why Rishi acts the way he does.  I think part of it is who he is, and I’m glad I changed my mind about Rishi.

It’s definitely your typical romantic-comedy, and there are actual obstacles to their relationship that aren’t related to random miscommunications.  Dimple’s hurtful and dishonest, and Rishi, while overprotective at first, does care about her.  She cares about him as well, and I liked that Dimple had no problem saying that she was at a different place in their relationship.  I liked that she needed more time and that marriage wasn’t something she was thinking about, even though Rishi seemed more ready for it.

Was marriage something her mom wanted for her?  Of course, but her mom also wanted her to be happy, and that was more important than Dimple getting married.

This book also has a lot of funny moments as well.  I laughed quite a few times, and I was frequently smiling as well. I think it really came across in the audio as well, because the tone of voice that both narrators used made a lot of moments really amusing and light and fun.

4 stars.  So, I didn’t love it, but I did really like it.  I think it’s great as an audio book, but I think it’s worth reading in any format.  It’s light-hearted and fun, and I definitely recommend it.

Book Review: It Devours! by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor, Narrated by Cecil Baldwin

Book: It Devours! by Joseph Fink And Jeffrey Cranor, Narrated by Cecil Baldwin

Published October 2017 by Harper Audio|9 hours and 38 minutes

Where I Got It: I own the audio book

Series: Welcome To Night Vale #2

Genre: Adult Fiction

From the authors of the New York Times bestselling novel Welcome to Night Vale and the creators of the #1 international podcast of the same name, comes a mystery exploring the intersections of faith and science, the growing relationship between two young people who want desperately to trust each other, and the terrifying, toothy power of the Smiling God.

Nilanjana Sikdar is an outsider to the town of Night Vale. Working for Carlos, the town’s top scientist, she relies on fact and logic as her guiding principles. But all of that is put into question when Carlos gives her a special assignment investigating a mysterious rumbling in the desert wasteland outside of town. This investigation leads her to the Joyous Congregation of the Smiling God, and to Darryl, one of its most committed members. Caught between her beliefs in the ultimate power of science and her growing attraction to Darryl, she begins to suspect the Congregation is planning a ritual that could threaten the lives of everyone in town. Nilanjana and Darryl must search for common ground between their very different world views as they are faced with the Congregation’s darkest and most terrible secret.

Night Vale is such a delightful place.  Weird, but delightful.  And I am glad that I got to revisit Night Vale in It Devours!

The nice thing about It Devours (and the Welcome To Night Vale novel) is that you don’t need to listen to the podcast in order to read this book.  It’s completely separate (but does reference the podcast), and while I loved the first book, I think I loved this book even more.  It’s very different than what I expected, but I really liked the story.  Carlos and his time in the Otherworld is very different in this book, and it’s a big change from the podcast.  He was more excited about the possibilities in the podcast, and more tortured in the book.

Cranor and Fink don’t like to keep things neat and tidy, that’s for sure.  But maybe it affected Carlos more than we thought.  It’s a very different Carlos that we see in this book, but maybe…I mean, it’s not like we see a lot of Carlos in the podcast.  I mean, we do, but not like this, and it’s a very different side of him.

As for the main story, I liked Nilanjana and Darryl’s story.  It’s more focused than the first book, and while it meanders, it’s not meandering the way the first book is.  We see the Joyous Congregation, which has been mentioned on the podcast, but this is a much closer look at the Joyous Congregation and the Smiling God.  And science!  And how they can be good or bad, depending on how you use it.  Darryl and Nilanjana work together to save Night Vale, and they each have their own unique perspective.

It definitely adds to the world, and it really shows how big Night Vale is.  There are a lot of stories to tell, and while I love Cecil, it’s also nice to see some of the other characters and people of Night Vale.  I also feel like they’ve gotten the hang of the novel format, and I’m sure any future Night Vale books will continue to get better.

With the first Night Vale book, I both listened to the audio book and read the book in print format.  Having been an avid listener of the podcast for years, I knew I would love it as an audio book.  It turned out that I didn’t love it in print, which is why I only listened to It Devours.  I love Cecil, and I can’t imagine experiencing Night Vale in any other format.  I’ve listened to Night Vale for years, and Night Vale in print is a very strange concept for me.

I would definitely recommend It Devours as an audio book, though it could be interesting in print as well.  It didn’t translate well the first time around, but maybe this time it well.

It Devours is a lot more philosophical as well.  It really examines science and religion, but they do it well.  There’s a very Night Vale take on both science and religion in this book, and it’s not science vs religion.  Which is nice.  It’s very kind towards both.  Weird, but kind.  We are talking about Night Vale here.

By the way…It Devours!  Yeah, I’ve totally read that book.  In case you didn’t pick up on that.

5 stars.  I loved It Devours! and it was a great book to listen to while I cleaned the heck out of my room.  I found myself paying more attention to the book than the cleaning, and it’s a big improvement on the first book (which I also loved).

What I’ve Been Reading: The Fourth And Final Part

So I was going to try to fit this series of posts into 3 posts, but that would have meant the last part would have been insanely long, and I just didn’t feel like doing that, so I thought I’d try to get one more part out of it, especially since I have quite a few things to say about the last 3 books I wanted to talk about.

  • There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins.  When I saw Stephanie Perkins had a new book out, I knew I had to read it.  I loved Anna And The French Kiss and Isla And The Happily Ever After, and I figured I’d love this book as well.  Except I didn’t.  If Scream- or any of those teen horror movies from the late 90’s/early 2000’s- were in novel form, you’d have this book.  It wasn’t bad, but it just didn’t work as a book for me.  I think it could be interesting as an audio book, particularly for the chapters narrated by the murdered students.  I just don’t know that I liked it enough to give the audio book a try.  It wasn’t as suspenseful as I thought it would be, especially when we find out who’s behind everything.  And the reason why was lame, in my book.  I can understand being jealous but it seemed like a pretty weak reason to start killing people.  I also didn’t really care, considering we knew nothing about this character who barely appeared.  And Makani’s reason why she ended up in Nebraska was…boring.  It was really built up, and then I felt let down when it was revealed what had actually happened.  I’m not sure what I expected, but it wasn’t that.  It had a lot more romance than I thought it would, and while I don’t mind romance, I think this book needed less romance and more suspense and tension.  There’s Someone Inside Your House gets 2 stars.
  • Girl In Translation by Jean Kwok, and narrated by Grayce Wey.  I did this book as an audio book, and I’m glad I did, because I really liked it as an audio book.  One thing that surprised me when I first started reading the book was the age of Kimberly.  I thought she was a lot older when the book started, and I was surprised when I found out how young she really was.  At the same time, it was nice because we see how much she changes after moving, and how hard she had to work to get what she wanted.  I really felt for Kimberly, and how she had to take on a lot because her mother spoke very limited English.  The apartment they lived in, and the fact that she had to help her mother at the factory just to finish the work on time.  And Aunt Paula was a horrible, abusive woman.  I was glad when Kimberly and her mother no longer had to rely on Aunt Paula to get by.  I can’t imagine going through what Kimberly went through, and how much I don’t see or realize because I don’t have to.  I can’t imagine living in such a horrible apartment and in terrible working conditions just to have a chance to live here and reach for something better.  I wasn’t a fan of the ending, because it was unexpected.  But I’m glad that things worked out for Kimberly, and she was still able to reach the goals that she had set for herself.  Girl In Translation gets 4 stars for a good look at what it’s like to be an immigrant in America.
  • Turtles All The Way Down by John Green.  I was both excited and nervous about this book when I heard that John Green had a new book.  Excited because it’s a new John Green book but also nervous because I loved TFIOS and Looking For Alaska, but didn’t care for his other books.  I ended up really liking it, and Aza is a great character.  She’s the most realistic of Green’s characters, and she was a lot more relatable than some of his other characters.  This book also focused on Aza’s mental health, and I really liked seeing that, because it really felt like it was something that John Green himself has lived through and dealt with.  And it was a nice change from the quirky teens falling in love that we usually see with his books.  Don’t get me wrong, that’s fine as well (and again, I did love TFIOS and Looking For Alaska) but it was still nice to see him do something different.  There’s still the philosophical conversations and trivia (both nerdy and regular trivia) that you see in a typical John Green book, and I will admit that it was nice to see that.  Aza’s struggles with OCD and anxiety were really well done.  And while everyone’s experiences are different as far as mental illness go, I still feel like it’s something that will speak to a lot of people.  I’m glad we got another John Green book, and that I really liked it, because TFIOS was such a big hit that I was nervous it wouldn’t.  I didn’t completely love it, but I did like it a lot more than I thought I would.  Turtles All The Way Down gets 4 stars.

Audio Book Review: The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski, Narrated by Justine Eyre

Book: The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski, narrated by Justine Eyre

Published March 2015 by Listening Library|Length: 10 hours

Where I Got It: I borrowed the audio book from the library

Series: The Winner’s Trilogy #2

Genre: YA Historical Fantasy

A royal wedding is what most girls dream about. It means one celebration after another: balls, fireworks, and revelry until dawn. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement: that she agreed to marry the crown prince in exchange for Arin’s freedom. But can Kestrel trust Arin? Can she even trust herself? For Kestrel is becoming very good at deception. She’s working as a spy in the court. If caught, she’ll be exposed as a traitor to her country. Yet she can’t help searching for a way to change her ruthless world . . . and she is close to uncovering a shocking secret.

This dazzling follow-up to The Winner’s Curse reveals the high price of dangerous lies and untrustworthy alliances. The truth will come out, and when it does, Kestrel and Arin will learn just how much their crimes will cost them.

I really liked The Winner’s Crime.  I definitely liked it more than The Winner’s Curse, and I’ll definitely be listening to the last book in the trilogy because I want to see what happens next.

The Winner’s Crime picked up where The Winner’s Curse left off, and we see what’s been going on with Kestrel after the events of the first book.  We definitely get more of this world and the different cultures, which I really liked because it expands the world so much.  There’s a lot more to this world than the Valorians and the Harani, and I hope we see more of this world in the next book.

There is a little part of that’s worried we won’t, because of everything that happened with Kestrel, particularly towards the end of the book.  But if the series continues to be narrated by Kestrel and Arin, then maybe we will see more of the world they live in.

We really see Kestrel in a different way.  Dealing with the emperor and his son and everything else going on- she has more to worry about than her romance and flirtations with Arin, which wasn’t frustrating the way it was in the first book.  Partly because of everything Kestrel is dealing with in this book, but also because it does slip in the background in this book.  I’m still not a fan of Arin, and while I might end up liking him in the next book, I doubt that will change.

As much as I liked this one, it did move pretty slow.  I definitely took random breaks when I was listening to it, so I’d listen to it on my way to work, and then switch over to the radio or podcasts for a couple of days.  Or I’d randomly listen to it on the way home from work, and then switch over to the radio or podcasts.

It also seemed more political and there was a lot more intrigue, which was nice.  Especially after the romance of the first book, which I wasn’t a big fan of.  It went in a different direction than I thought it would, and I feel like the next book is going to go in a completely different direction as well.  Hopefully in a good way.  It was an unexpected surprise in this book, but it was a good surprise, and it made a series I was unsure more interesting, and one I want to finish.

I’m definitely reminded of the Roman Empire, for some reason.  I don’t know why, but it has that feel to it. An Ember In The Ashes comes to mind as a possible read-alike, and I’m not sure why.  But it could be interesting to pair the two books together.

3 stars.  It’s almost 4 stars, but not quite.  It did move a little bit slower than I would have liked, but I did like it more than the previous book.

Audio Book Review: The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski, Narrated by Justine Eyre

Book: The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski, Narrated by Justine Eyre

Published March 2014 by Listening Library|8 hours, 24 minutes

Where I Got It: I borrowed the audio book from the library

Series: The Winner’s Trilogy #1

Genre: YA Fantasy/Alternate History

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love.

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction.

Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

This has been on my TBR for a while, and it seemed pretty popular, so when I saw the audio book at the library, I figured it would be a good time to check it out.

What I liked the most was seeing the privilege and power the Valorians have, and how they don’t care about the way the come in and conquer people.  They take what they want, because they can, and they enslave an entire country because they think they can.  You also get a sense of how the two different cultures are, and I liked that we get this really amazing immersion in their world.  It didn’t feel forced, and I liked that there was no info-dumping.

I wasn’t a big fan of the romance- it was so problematic for me, because Arin is Kestrel’s slave, and I feel like he can’t truly be in love with her, or have feelings for her, because she’s in a position of power and authority over him.  It’s a very unbalanced relationship, and I will be disappointed if they end up with each other in the end.

The relationship between them was my main problem, but I also disliked some other things about the book.  There are hints that the slavery we see in the book is really brutal, but unfortunately, it’s only hinted at.  And I don’t know if it’s just me, but I assumed that Kestrel had fair skin, while Arin had dark skin.  Something about the book reminded me of slavery in the U.S., and…now I have no idea where I’m going with this, or what point I’m trying to make with this.  I did not give this enough thought, and I’m sure people with more knowledge about slavery in the U.S. could say it a lot better than I ever could.  I was also reminded of the Roman empire, and I think this book, and An Ember In The Ashes would make really good read-a-likes.

Since I listened to the audio book, let’s talk about that!  I liked it as an audio book, and I think that’s why I finished the book, because I’m not sure I would have finished if I had gone with the print/e-book version.  I liked the narrator, but didn’t love her either.

3 stars.  I really liked the world, but I had some issues with the possible romance between Kestrel and Arin.  I have the 2nd book on audio from the library, so I’ll at least try out the 2nd book to see if I l’m more interested in the series.

Audio Book Review: The Wrath And The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

Book: The Wrath And The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh, narrated by Ariana Delawari

Published May 2015 by Listening Library|Length: 10 hours, 38 minutes

Where I Got It: I got the audio book via Audible.com

Series: The Wrath & The Dawn #1

Genre: YA Fantasy/Re-Telling

A sumptuous and epically told love story inspired by A Thousand and One Nights

Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch…she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.

She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.

I really liked The Wrath And The Dawn!  I’ve had it for a while, but finally got around to listening to it.

I really liked Sharzhad.  She was so conflicted about her feelings for the king and getting revenge for her best friend, especially as she got to know him, and why he took so many brides.  It was really predictable that she’d start to fall for him, and that she would have conflicted feelings about her mission, so to speak.

I didn’t like either choice, but I’d rather her be with the king, because I did not care for the guy she left behind when she volunteered to become his bride.  Her childhood friend/love was whiny and annoying in the little we see of him. I felt like he didn’t care about what SHE wanted, and he wasn’t willing to hear her out.  I do get why he reacted the way he did, but it also really bothered me.  I’m not sure if it’s because we know things he doesn’t, or if I saw more of the king and feel a little more sympathetic towards him, but I was not a fan of this other guy. Who, by the way, isn’t memorable enough for me to actually remember his name.

It was interesting that she was the one he kept alive, at great cost to him.  I’m not sure what I was expecting in terms of why he was killing his brides, but it does make sense, and I liked it more than I thought it would.

I LOVED the narration!  Ariana Delawari is one of my favorite narrators, even though this is only the 2nd book I’ve listened to that she’s narrated.  I specifically switched over to the audio book because of her.  She really captured who Sharzhad is a a character, and I can’t imagine anyone else narrating this series.

4 stars.  I really liked The Wrath And The Dawn, and I really recommend the audio book.  I can’t wait to listen to the next book in the series.