Audio Book Review: The Reader by Traci Chee, Narrated by Kim Mai Guest

Book: The Reader by Traci Chee, Narrated By Kim Mai Guest

Published September 2016 by Listening Library|12 hours 31 minutes

Where I Got It: I own the audio book

Series: Sea Of Ink And Gold #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

A stunning debut set in a world where reading is unheard-of, perfect for fans of Inkheart and Shadow and Bone

Sefia knows what it means to survive. After her father is brutally murdered, she flees into the wilderness with her aunt Nin, who teaches her to hunt, track, and steal. But when Nin is kidnapped, leaving Sefia completely alone, none of her survival skills can help her discover where Nin’s been taken, or if she’s even alive. The only clue to both her aunt’s disappearance and her father’s murder is the odd rectangular object her father left behind, an object she comes to realize is a book—a marvelous item unheard of in her otherwise illiterate society. With the help of this book, and the aid of a mysterious stranger with dark secrets of his own, Sefia sets out to rescue her aunt and find out what really happened the day her father was killed—and punish the people responsible.

With overlapping stories of swashbuckling pirates and merciless assassins, The Reader is a brilliantly told adventure from an extraordinary new talent.

I’m honestly not sure what to think of The Reader.  Here’s the thing with this book- I tried reading it ages ago, found it didn’t work in print, so I switched to the audio book, thinking that would work better.  I ended up finishing the audio recently, only to find that I wasn’t paying attention to it, and that it pretty much faded into the background.

That’s not what you want with an audio book, especially because I couldn’t even begin to tell you what had happened.  Instead of listening to it again (for fear the same thing would happen), I decided to borrow it from the library when I happened to be wandering around in the YA section and saw it sitting on the shelf.

It turned out to be okay for me.  I didn’t particularly care for the stories of the pirates and assassins- especially the assassins.  It made things more muddled and confusing, and it didn’t feel personal.  At least the assassins related to the story.  As for the pirates, I liked that they were clearly stories, and I found that when I went to it in print, it was clearly distinguished from the rest of the book.

That part was nice, but I vaguely remember that it wasn’t clear when you switched perspectives in the audio book.

The story itself was interesting, and I really liked the idea.  It was hard to believe that Sefia was able to figure out how to read, especially in a society that’s illiterate.  Especially since they seemed to be advanced in other ways.  Do they have some sort of record-keeping system?  That’s what I want to know, but I don’t know if I’m interested enough to keep reading to find out.

One that I also didn’t like was how some people were referred to- The Arbitrator, the Assassin, the Second.  It didn’t work for me, and it made me not care.  I felt distanced from what was going on, even there were other characters, like Sefia and Archer involved.  It tended to happen in the assassin chapters, but you saw it at other times too.

Everything did come together in the end, but by then, I didn’t particularly care about what was going on.

I will say that I did like Kim Mai Guest’s narration.  While I ended up re-reading it because I wasn’t paying attention, I did like her as the narrator, and me not paying attention is nothing against her at all.  She’s good at what she does, at least in the couple of books I’ve listened to that she’s narrated.

2 stars.  The story was okay, and I had a hard time paying attention to the story.  Chee’s writing was lovely, but I had a hard time getting into the story.

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Book Review: Renegades by Marissa Meyer, Narrated by Rebecca Soler And Dan Bittner

Book: Renegades by Marissa Meyer, Narrated by Rebecca Soler and Dan Bittner

Published November 2017 by MacMillan Audio|Length 16 hours, 58 minutes

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

Series: Renegades #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

From #1 New York Times-bestselling author Marissa Meyer, comes a high-stakes world of adventure, passion, danger, and betrayal.

Secret Identities.
Extraordinary Powers.
She wants vengeance. He wants justice.

The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies—humans with extraordinary abilities—who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone…except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice—and in Nova. But Nova’s allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.

I really liked Renegades.  It’s odd, because it’s a mix of dystopia and fantasy, but I thought I worked really well.

I really liked Nova and I felt really bad for her.  The book is narrated by both Nova and Adrian, and I found I cared for Nova’s story more than Adrian’s.  Since I listened to it on audio, there was no skimming over Adrian’s sections, and I did notice that it wasn’t the typical alternating chapters- it was sections.  They each got a few chapters where one would narrate, and than it would switch to the other one.

I was more bored with Adrian’s, like I mentioned, and I think it’s because he’s one of the “good guys.”  By the end of the book, I thought the Renegades were a lot worse than the villains.  There’s one moment in particular that made me hate them, and I hate both what they were doing, and how they went about it.  And people think they’re the good guys?  Never have I so badly wanted them to be taken down, and I need Nova to be the one to do it.

I think part of why the Renegades seemed horrible was perspective.  Especially when Nova was narrating.  She has every reason to hate them, and with everything she’s learning about them, it’s hard to like them.  You do see that at least some of them have the best of intentions, and maybe that was the Renegades at the very beginning, when they first came into power.  But as they are in the book?  They are not the good guys they think they are.

One thing I thought was frustrating was the secret identity thing.  I thought it should have been a lot more obvious to the characters, but maybe that’s because I knew things the characters didn’t.  That was something that kept me from loving it, and I kept waiting for them to figure it out.  Maybe in the next one?

And the ending!  I’m curious to see how things go in the next one with how things ended.  I’m not going to say what happened, but because I was listening to it in my car, I was yelling at the audio book.  It’s not bad, but…it’s a cliffhanger?  Which I kind of expected, but not like that.  It really took me off guard, but in a good way so I’m anxiously awaiting the next one to see what happens next.

Since I mentioned I listened to it on audio, I should probably talk about the narration!  I really liked Nova, and I liked Rebecca Soler as her narrator.  I thought Dan Bittner did a great job narrated Adrian, but I did like Soler’s narration more.  I don’t think I’m completely used to male narrators, and it’s pretty rare that I’ll listen to a book narrated by a guy.  Still, he did do a great job as Adrian, and I could picture both of them as the characters.  I’m also glad they went with two different narrators, because it really helped distinguish between the two characters and what was going on, especially when they were in the same scenes, and you;d switch from Nova to Adrian, or Adrian to Nova.

It’s also pretty long, so it took me a while to get through it.  I definitely had to take a break and listen to the radio every once in a while.  Not being it was boring, because it wasn’t!  I just need to have something fade in the background every once in a while.

4 stars,  I really liked Renegades, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Audio Book Review: Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel, Narrated by Full Cast

Book: Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel, Narrated by Full Cast

Published April 2016 by Random House Audio|Length: 8 hours, 28 minutes

Where I Got It: I own the audio book

Series: Themis Files #1

Genre: Adult Sci-Fi

An inventive debut in the tradition of World War Z and The Martian, told in interviews, journal entries, transcripts, and news articles, Sleeping Giants is a literary thriller fueled by a quest for truth – and a fight for control of earthshaking power.

A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved – its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top-secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the provenance of relic. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unraveling history’s most perplexing discovery – and figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result prove to be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?

I really liked Sleeping Giants!  It was one of those books I tried reading ages ago, before realizing I’d like it a lot better as an audio book.  I’m glad I switched to the audio, because I really liked the audio book.

I think the comparison to World War Z and The Martian is actually a pretty good one.  The interviews and such we see in Sleeping Giant did make me think of World War Z and The Martian, and I think the fact that it’s told through interviews translated really well to audio.  And why I struggled with it when I tried reading it in print.

I really liked seeing all of the people involved in trying to figure out the giants.  It’s definitely a mystery, and I feel like you really get to know the characters.  Because of how the story is told, you don’t get the inner thoughts of the character, and you do see things from a distance, but even then, I still felt like I got to know the characters and what they wanted.  Even the interviewer, and he somehow seemed more anonymous, which meant I was more intrigued with him than with anyone else.

There is a lot of backstory that we don’t get.  There are all of these different files, but some are skipped over- we’ll go from, say, File #12 to File #23.  It means there’s a lot that we don’t get, and I’m wondering if we’ll get more in the books to come.

I also really liked the idea of the novel.  I mean, a giant hand is discovered and they’re trying to figure out what it means, and how it got buried on earth?  What’s not to like?  I just want to know what it all means.  I guess I’ll have to listen to book 2 to find out.

As for the narration, I really liked it!  World War Z is the only book I’ve listened to that had a full cast, and wasn’t narrated by 1 or 2 people.  I liked that it had multiple narrators, because it really made each person distinct.  I mean, I wasn’t completely paying attention to who was who, but I did like all of the narrators, and thought that they each had their own voice and personality.

4 stars.  I really liked Sleeping Giants, and I especially liked it as an audio book.  I know certain files were skipped over, and I kind of wish that we knew what happened in those gaps, and that we knew more about the mysterious interviewer.  But overall, it’s a pretty interesting story.

Book Review: I’ll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara, Narrated By Gabra Zackman

Book: I’ll Be Gone In The Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search For The Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara, Narrated by Gabra Zackman

Published February 2018 by HarperAudio|Length: 9 hours 45 minutes

Where I Got It: I own the audio book

Series: None

Genre: Adult Non-Fiction/True Crime

For more than ten years, a mysterious and violent predator committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California before moving south, where he perpetrated ten sadistic murders. Then he disappeared, eluding capture by multiple police forces and some of the best detectives in the area.

Three decades later, Michelle McNamara, a true crime journalist who created the popular website TrueCrimeDiary.com, was determined to find the violent psychopath she called “the Golden State Killer.” Michelle pored over police reports, interviewed victims, and embedded herself in the online communities that were as obsessed with the case as she was.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark —the masterpiece McNamara was writing at the time of her sudden death—offers an atmospheric snapshot of a moment in American history and a chilling account of a criminal mastermind and the wreckage he left behind. It is also a portrait of a woman’s obsession and her unflagging pursuit of the truth. Utterly original and compelling, it is destined to become a true crime classic—and may at last unmask the Golden State Killer.

After hearing about this book on My Favorite Murder, I knew I had to read it!  I ended up going with the audio book, since I really like the narrator, Gabra Zackman.

It’s part true crime story about the Golden State Killer, and part memoir.  I really liked hearing more about the how she investigated the case, and her interest in true crime, especially knowing that there’s a suspect in custody, and knowing that she passed away while writing the book.

It really struck me how determined she was to find out who he was and how much time she put into figuring out who did it.  It really saddens me that she didn’t live long enough to see it happen.  She doesn’t shy away from how much the case took over her life, and it’s a big part of the book.

McNamara really shows how terrifying his crimes were, and you feel the frustration of the detectives who keep hitting dead ends.  You feel how much the victims lives were changed, and yet, she never exploits their stories.  She really brought this case to life, and she really had a unique way of telling this story.

It’s a shame she never got to finish the book, and I did appreciate that it’s noted what she had already finished, and what had been put together by her fellow researchers.  I’m glad that this book was able to be published.  Because of that, it does feel a little disjointed, particularly in the audio book.  At least, at seemed really noticeable in the audio book, that it jumped around a bit, and while it does make me wish she had been able to finish writing, it is unavoidable considering the circumstances.

There’s an amazing attention to detail, and yet, it doesn’t feel like too much.  She has a lot of empathy for the victims, their families, and all of the people who worked on catching this guy.  While listening, I wanted them to find a break in the case, while knowing that when this book was being written, it was quite a ways off.  Even though I’ll Be Gone In The Dark felt very personal, it also felt objective.  She fact-checked and interviewed and researched, and it never felt biased, even though you knew she wanted the guy who did it to be caught.

This book is definitely worth checking out.  The audio does have sections narrated by Gillian Flynn and Patton Oswald (to whom McNamara was married to before her death), though most of the book is narrated by Zackman.  Zackman is one of my favorite narrators for a reason, and she really brought this book to life.

As for the Golden State Killer (since I feel like I’ve talked more about McNamara than the case she devoted years to researching), this is not a book to read or listen when you’re home alone…especially at night.  It’s terrifying how much planning he did, and I can certainly see why people were terrified.  His crimes stopped before I was born, but it’s terrifying to think that about how scared everyone must have been, knowing this guy was out there, but not caught.

5 stars.  McNamara did such an amazing job at bringing this story to life.  Zackman did a great job narrating as well, and if you like true crime, you really like this book.  To be honest, I think everyone should read it, regardless of your interest in true crime.

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.

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).