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.

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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.

Audio Book Review: The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahira

the-namesake-coverBook: The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahira, narrated by Sarita Choudhury

Published August 2006 by Random House Audio|10 hours, 5 minutes

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

Series: None

Genre: Adult Fiction

Blog Graphic-What It's About

Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies established this young writer as one the most brilliant of her generation. In The Namesake, Lahiri enriches the themes that made her collection an international bestseller: the immigrant experience, the clash of cultures, the conflicts of assimilation, and, most poignantly, the tangled ties between generations.

The Namesake takes the Ganguli family from their tradition-bound life in Calcutta through their fraught transformation into Americans. On the heels of their arranged marriage, Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli settle together in Cambridge, Massachusetts. An engineer by training, Ashoke adapts far less warily than his wife, who resists all things American and pines for her family. When their son is born, the task of naming him betrays the vexed results of bringing old ways to the new world. Named for a Russian writer by his Indian parents, Gogol Ganguli knows only that he suffers the burden of his heritage as well as his odd, antic name.

Lahiri brings great empathy to Gogol as he stumbles along a first-generation path strewn with conflicting loyalties, comic detours, and wrenching love affairs. With penetrating insight, she reveals not only the defining power of the names and expectations bestowed upon us by our parents, but also the means by which we slowly, sometimes painfully, come to define ourselves.

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

I liked The Namesake more than I thought I would!  It really made me think about immigrants, and the power of names and being a first-generation American.

It’s been quite a while since I finished this book, so it’s definitely not fresh in my mind.  But there are a few things that stood out, particularly with pet names and good names.  It’s sad that the staff at Gogol’s school didn’t understand the concept of the name, and Gogol seemed particularly confused by it as well.  I really liked that you saw how different things were for Gogol and his parents, and I felt like I was experiencing things alongside Gogol and his parents.  He didn’t choose his name, and you see that he has a really complicated relationship with it.

One scene that bothered me was when Gogol was at a dinner party, and one of the guests assumed that he didn’t need immunizations when he traveled to India with his parents because, and I’m paraphrasing, he’s from India. It was either his girlfriend or his girlfriend’s mother who said he was from the U.S. but even she didn’t seem sure. They were together for ages, and they were all living in the same house, and yet she had no idea where he was born.  Yes, he is Bengali-American, but they didn’t seem to grasp the concept that he still needed immunizations to travel to India because he has never lived there.  I felt angry on his behalf that people lacked understanding.  It was probably just an innocent question for them, and they likely didn’t think anything about it, but it still really upset me because it seemed so insensitive.

Since I went for the audio book, I’ll talk about the narration!  I honestly don’t remember much about the narrator, but I do remember she did a great job with the narration.  I felt like she was Gogol, and she really brought him to life. I don’t think I’ll necessarily seek out any books narrated by her, but if I were listening to a book narrated by her, I wouldn’t mind.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

4 stars.  I really liked it, and I think, now more than ever, it’s important to read books like The Namesake.  I feel like I learned so much just from reading it.  What it’s like to be a child of immigrants is something I’ve never thought about- and never had to- but that’s why I’m glad I read it.

Book Review Round-Up: When Reason Breaks, Compulsion and Split Second

Book Review Round-Up is when I talk about several books in one post.  Today’s books are When Reason Breaks By Cindy Rodriguez, Compulsion by Martina Boone and Split Second by Kasie West.

when-reason-breaks-coverBook #1: When Reason Breaks by Cindy L. Rodriguez, narrated by Cassandra Morris

Published February 2015 by Audible for Bloomsbury|Length: 7 hours, 16 minutes

Where I Got It: I own the audio book

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

What It’s About: 13 Reasons Why meets the poetry of Emily Dickinson in this gripping debut novel perfect for fans of Sara Zarr or Jennifer Brown.

A Goth girl with an attitude problem, Elizabeth Davis must learn to control her anger before it destroys her. Emily Delgado appears to be a smart, sweet girl, with a normal life, but as depression clutches at her, she struggles to feel normal. Both girls are in Ms. Diaz’s English class, where they connect to the words of Emily Dickinson. Both are hovering on the edge of an emotional precipice. One of them will attempt suicide. And with Dickinson’s poetry as their guide, both girls must conquer their personal demons to ever be happy.

In an emotionally taut novel with a richly diverse cast of characters, readers will relish in the poetry of Emily Dickinson and be completely swept up in the turmoil of two girls grappling with demons beyond their control.

What I Thought: I’ve wanted to read When Reason Breaks ever since I heard about it. I thought the dual narration worked really well, even in the audio book. It was hard at first, telling the two girls apart, but as the book went on, it got easier because Elizabeth and Emily are very different girls. I’m also glad that Elizabeth went by Elizabeth, because two Emily’s in the audio book would have been a little bit hard to keep up with. Especially with the connection to Emily Dickinson we see throughout the book.

Emily and Elizabeth are very different girls, but both of them are struggling with depression. With Emily and Elizabeth, we see very different portrayals of it, and I liked seeing how two very different people deal with depression in very different ways. They very much represent different manifestations of depression- outwardly for Elizabeth, and inward for Emily.

I will say that I was frustrated with how Mrs. Diaz dealt with the anonymous letters she got from one of her students. I get why she would assume the letters were from Elizabeth- Elizabeth is not only Goth, but has a lot of other issues that she’s dealing with at home. I’m not at all saying that if you’re Goth, you’re depressed and suicidal, and this book clearly shows that you can be depressed and suicidal and still appear like everything is fine, even if it’s not. But it frustrated me, because she’s focusing all of her attention on the student she thinks needs helps- it’s like she doesn’t consider that it could be someone else, and that was frustrating to listen to, because depression isn’t always obvious. At least she realizes that a student needs help, and that she was able to save the student in time. We don’t really see any attempts at recovery, but this book isn’t about that. It’s about the struggle of dealing with something and not knowing what to do or how to handle it.

Cassandra Morris was an excellent narrator, and even though I’m actively seeking out other books she’s narrated, if I saw she narrated a book that I was considering listening to, I’d definitely consider it as an audio book. I do wish she had done something slightly different for the two girls, but overall, she did a pretty good job. I could have sworn I’ve listened to a book by her, because she sounded really familiar, but I haven’t. Maybe she sounds similar to another narrator Ive listened to.

My Rating: 4 stars. Mostly because the assumptions that Mrs. Diaz made in regard to who was sending her letters was really frustrating (as understandable as it was), and it was a little hard to get over. It is a very good look at depression and the different forms it can take.

compulsion-coverBook #2: Compulsion by Martina Boone

Published August 2015 by SimonPulse|433 pages

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

Series: The Heirs Of Watson Island #1

Genre: YA Paranormal/Mystery/Gothic

What It’s About: Beautiful Creatures meets The Raven Boys in Compulsion, the first novel in a spellbinding new trilogy.

All her life, Barrie Watson has been a virtual prisoner in the house where she lived with her shut-in mother. When her mother dies, Barrie promises to put some mileage on her stiletto heels. But she finds a new kind of prison at her aunt’s South Carolina plantation instead—a prison guarded by an ancient spirit who long ago cursed one of the three founding families of Watson Island and gave the others magical gifts that became compulsions.

Stuck with the ghosts of a generations-old feud and hunted by forces she cannot see, Barrie must find a way to break free of the family legacy. With the help of sun-kissed Eight Beaufort, who knows what Barrie wants before she knows herself, the last Watson heir starts to unravel her family’s twisted secrets. What she finds is dangerous: a love she never expected, a river that turns to fire at midnight, a gorgeous cousin who isn’t what she seems, and very real enemies who want both Eight and Barrie dead.

What I Thought: I don’t remember how I came across this book, but it seemed intriguing enough, especially since it’s described as Beautiful Creatures meets The Raven Boys. I know I read The Raven Boys (and I know a lot of people love that series) but I don’t remember much about it, other than they’re trying to find…something. I do love Beautiful Creatures, and I was hoping that I would like this book as much as that series.

As much as I wanted to like it, I ended up not liking it that much. As much as I like the premise, it fell short for me. I can see the comparisons to Beautiful Creatures, and there is this southern Gothic feel to the book, but it didn’t work as well as I thought it would. I did listen to Beautiful Creatures on audio, while I read Compulsion, and I wonder if that would have made a difference. I have the feeling it wouldn’t. I really wish we had more information about the curse that affected all three families and why it bound them to the island. I feel like we got something, but it’s honestly not something I can remember. There are gifts and curses and there is not enough detail for me. All of the world-building was there (and to be honest, it felt a little forced), but never really explained. I wish it were, because those details could have been interesting.

My Rating: 2 stars. Even though I wasn’t the biggest fan of this book, I have a hard time giving it one star, and I’m not sure why.

split-second-coverBook #3: Split Second by Kasie West

Published February 2014 by HarperTeen|360 Pages

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

Series: Pivot Point #2

Genre: YA Paranormal

What It’s About: Life can change in a split second.

Addie hardly recognizes her life since her parents divorced. Her boyfriend used her. Her best friend betrayed her. She can’t believe this is the future she chose. On top of that, her ability is acting up. She’s always been able to Search the future when presented with a choice. Now she can manipulate and slow down time, too . . . but not without a price.

When Addie’s dad invites her to spend her winter break with him, she jumps at the chance to escape into the Norm world of Dallas, Texas. There she meets the handsome and achingly familiar Trevor. He’s a virtual stranger to her, so why does her heart do a funny flip every time she sees him? But after witnessing secrets that were supposed to stay hidden, Trevor quickly seems more suspicious of Addie than interested in her. And she has an inexplicable desire to change that.

Meanwhile, her best friend, Laila, has a secret of her own: she can restore Addie’s memories . . . once she learns how. But there are powerful people who don’t want to see this happen. Desperate, Laila tries to manipulate Connor, a brooding bad boy from school—but he seems to be the only boy in the Compound immune to her charms. And the only one who can help her.

As Addie and Laila frantically attempt to retrieve the lost memories, Addie must piece together a world she thought she knew before she loses the love she nearly forgot . . . and a future that could change everything.

What I Thought: I didn’t like Split Second as much as I thought I would. I liked the first one, but I thought Split Second was really confusing. It was narrated by Addie and Laila, and even though there were major differences in their chapters, in terms of how their stories unfolded, it was hard to tell them apart. Just when I got used to one of them, the chapter was over, and I was thrown into someone else’s story.

I did have trouble focusing on the book, so maybe my massive confusion was partly because I wasn’t paying as much attention as I could have. I do remember having this problem with Pivot Point, and being confused by the two different time lines, but I don’t remember having this much trouble keeping up with what was going on. It’s also been a while since I’ve read Pivot Point, so part of might be because I remember nothing. I have really liked the contemporary books I’ve read by West, so maybe her more paranormal stuff isn’t my thing.

My Rating: 2 stars. I found that I was really confused, and unable to keep up. It’s an interesting idea, but not my cup of tea.

Book Review Round-Up: World War Z, A Torch Against The Night, And Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children

I have a lot of books I want to talk about, so I thought I’d do some shorter reviews of a few of them!

world-war-zBook #1: World War Z: An Oral History Of The Zombie War by Max Brooks, Narrated by Full Cast

Published May 2013 by Random House Audio|Length: 12 hours, 8 minutes

Where I Got It: I borrowed the audio cd’s from the library

Series: None

What It’s About: World War Z: The Complete Edition (Movie Tie-in Edition): An Oral History of the Zombie War is a new version of Max Brooks’ episodic zombie novel. The abridged versions of the original stories are now joined with new, unabridged recordings of the episodes that were not included in the original (abridged) version of the audiobook. These additional episodes feature a star-studded cast of narrators to coincide with the upcoming release of the film.

New narrators include Academy Award-winning director Martin Scorsese, Spiderman star Alfred Molina, The Walking Dead creator Frank Darabont, rapper Common, Firefly star Nathan Fillion,Shaun of the Dead’s Simon Pegg, and members of the casts of Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Heroes and more! Max Brooks will be reprising his role as The Interviewer.

The original abridged edition, released in 2006, won an Audie Award for Best Multi-Voiced Performance. Original cast members include Alan Alda, Mark Hamill, Carl & Rob Reiner, and John Turturro.

In this new classic of apocalyptic fiction that feels all too real, the Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. The documentary-style oral history records the testimony of men, women, and sometimes children who came face-to-face with the living, or at least the undead, hell of that dreadful time.

Featuring five more hours of previously unrecorded content, this full-cast recording is read by F. Murray Abraham, Alan Alda, René Auberjonois, Becky Ann Baker, Dennis Boutsikaris, Bruce Boxleitner, Max Brooks, Nicki Clyne, Common, Denise Crosby, Frank Darabont, Dean Edwards, Mark Hamill, Nathan Fillion, Maz Jobrani, Frank Kamai, Michelle Kholos, John McElroy, Ade M’Cormack, Alfred Molina, Parminder Nagra, Ajay Naidu, Masi Oka, Steve Park, Kal Penn, Simon Pegg, Jürgen Prochnow, Carl Reiner, Rob Reiner, Henry Rollins, Jeri Ryan, Jay O. Sanders, Martin Scorsese, Paul Sorvino, David Ogden Stiers, Brian Tee, John Turturro, Eamonn Walker, Ric Young, and Waleed Zuaiter.

What I Thought: I randomly picked up World War Z at the library one day- I remember watching the movie, and I think that’s why I picked it up.

I think it worked really well as an audio book, considering how the book is told.  I like that it’s an oral history of the Zombie War, and I think that lends itself well as an audio book.  It was something that I only listened to sporadically in the car, and there were so many different stories that none of them really stood out.  I don’t know that I would have finished it had I read it, but at the same time, maybe I would have had better luck in remembering more of the stories.  It does seem like almost all of the actual fighting took place in the U.S., while all of the chapters that took place in other parts of the world were about trying to figure out what was going on, and how we ended up with a Zombie outbreak.

I was hesitant about the full cast, but it worked really well for the book because it was easier to distinguish between the different stories that were being told in the book.  It is quite the cast, and unfortunately, while I recognized some of the names, it was hard matching up the voice with the character, especially when I don’t know what their voices sound like.

My Rating: 3 stars.  I did like hearing all of the stories and global the book was, but the stories started to blend together after awhile.

a-torch-against-the-night-coverBook #2: A Torch Against The Night by Sabaa Tahir

Published August 2016 by Razorbill|464 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: An Ember In The Ashes #2

Genre: YA Fantasy

What It’s About: Elias and Laia are running for their lives.

After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.

Laia is determined to break into Kauf – the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison – to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars’ survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.

But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene – Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike.

Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own – one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape… and kill them both.

What I Thought: I was really looking forward to this book after reading An Ember In The Ashes last year, and it didn’t disappoint!  I really wish I had read the first book again, just because I could not remember anything from the first book, and I had a little bit of a hard time getting back into this world.

Like An Ember In The Ashes, I didn’t particularly care for Laia’s story, and for me, Elias was much more interesting, especially with how his story went.  His narration went in a direction I wasn’t expecting- though the same thing happened with Laia, but not to the same degree as Elias.  I also liked the addition of Helene, and her narration gave perspective on the what things were like for the Empire.  I liked seeing both sides, and the obstacles that Laia and Elias had to face.  I also liked seeing how hard it was for Helene, and the horrible position she was put in.  She went through quite a change by the end of the book, and I’m curious to see if she’ll ever go back to the character we see at the beginning of the book.

My Rating: 4 stars.  I really liked it, and I’m glad that there are more books in the series.  I wish I remembered more from the first book, and while Laia’s story was a little more interesting, I thought Elias and Helene were much more interesting.

miss-peregrines-home-for-peculiar-children-coverBook #3: Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Published June 2013 by Quirk Books|382 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the paperback from a co-worker

Series: Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

What It’s About: A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered inMiss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that Miss Peregrine’s children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

What I Thought: I really liked it- a lot more than I thought I would.  Seeing the trailer for the movie made me want to read the book, so I was really glad when a co-worker let me borrow her copy.  I wasn’t sure what to expect with it, and I really liked how creepy and mysterious everything was.  I also LOVED the photographs throughout the book, and they somehow made the book more interesting.  Especially since so many of the photographs went so well with the book and the characters and what was going on.

I think maybe part of me was expecting the story to be more about Jacob’s grandfather, and I was actually a little surprised by how it was more Jacob’s story.  It’s not that we don’t learn about his grandfather, because we do, at least a little.  I wish we got a little more about the children, and why they can do what they do, but perhaps that will be explored in the rest of the series.  Speaking of the rest of the series- even though I really like this book, I’m not sure if I want to keep going with the series.

My Rating: 4 stars.  I think I expected more with Jacob’s grandfather, and I wanted to know more about why there are people who are so peculiar, but I also loved how creepy the book was.  And the photographs- they were really cool and interesting and added something special to the book.

Top Ten Tuesday Freebie: Top Ten Reasons Why I Love Audio Books

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely folks over at The Broke And The Bookish.  Every week, bloggers share their own bookish top ten lists based on the topic of the week.  You can check out Ten Tuesdays here.

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Top Ten Reasons Why I Love Audio Books

It’s a freebie week, which means we get to pick the topic of our choice!  I listen to audio books very infrequently, but it’s also a format I really like so I thought I’d share my top ten reasons for why I love audio books!

  1. It makes my commute more tolerable.  I hate traffic, and even though I tend to go between music, podcasts and the occasional audio book, I find that my commute is somehow a little bit better when I’m absorbed in a book.
  2. It also makes my work-day go by faster!  When I actually listen at work, which I haven’t done in ages because all of a sudden, I had a hard time focusing on audio books.  Still, it’s a good option!
  3. Sometimes, a book doesn’t work in print, but it’s great as an audio book.  I had a hard time with the Parasol Protectorate series when I tried reading it, but I love the audio books.  And so far, I’m finding that I’m having an easier time with Daughter Of Smoke And Bone as an audio book than I did when I was reading it.
  4. I like that I have options with where I can get audio books- there’s the library and audible (which I love) and audio book sync is also completely awesome.
  5. Also: cd’s are nice for when I just want to listen in my car, but at the same time, I love that I can put my audio books on my iPod for when I want to listen in multiple places.
  6. I’ve specifically gone for the audio book when it’s by a narrator I really like.  I loved Ariana Delawari’s narration of The Secret Sky, and that’s what made me switch to the audio book for The Wrath And The Dawn.  And I specifically gave Daughter Of Smoke And Bone another chance because it’s narrated by Khristine Hvam, who was the female narrator for both the Beautiful Creatures series and the Dangerous Creatures series.
  7. Plus, I’m more willing to listen to check out an audio book if it’s narrated by someone I really like, even if it’s not in a genre/category I’d typically read.  I generally don’t do non-fiction on audio, but I know Edward Herrmann has narrated some non-fiction, and I’d check that out in a heartbeat.
  8. They’re great for when I can’t decide if I want to read or crochet, and audio books let me do both!
  9. It’s story time!  Seriously, sometimes I just need someone reading to me.
  10. And narrators can definitely make a great book better.  I think one reason why I love a handful of audio books so much is because of the narrator, or because the story was meant to be listened to (or, at the very least, better suited for an audio format).

Audio Book Review: Perfect by Natasha Friend

Perfect CoverBook: Perfect by Natasha Friend, narrated by Danielle Ferland

Published January 2013 by Recorded Books|Run Time: 4 hours, 22 minutes

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

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Blog Graphic-What It's About

Isabelle Lee has a problem, and it’s not just Ape Face, her sister, or group therapy for an eating disorder, or even that her father died and her mother is depressed and in denial. It’s that Ashley, the most popular girl in school, is inviting Isabelle to join her at lunch and at sleepovers at her house, and this is presenting Isabelle with a dilemma. Pretty Ashley has moved Isabelle up the social ladder, but is it worth keeping the secret they share? Caught in the orbit of popularity and appearances, Isabelle must navigate a world with mixed messages, false hopes, and potentially harmful turns, while coping with her own flailing family and emotions. The author brings a depth of characterization, humor, and a real adolescent’s voice to this multileveled story about the desire to be perfect in an imperfect world.

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I randomly picked this one up from the library recently, but it was an okay listen for me.

One: I wasn’t expecting Isabelle to be so young- granted, she’s 13, but I assumed that she would be a lot older. Still, it’s nice to see a book focused on a middle school character, instead of one in high school, which seems to be a lot more common.

Two: I didn’t feel like Isabelle moved up the social ladder at all.  Sitting at the popular for all of two weeks…we don’t see much change in Isabelle’s social status as result, and she’s more on the periphery than anything else.

Three: At one point Ashley is bleeding from her mouth after we see both girls purge.  Nothing happens with this, and it seemed like a random thing to bring up, only for Ashley to be perfectly fine.  It’s explained away as “it happens sometimes, it’s no big deal.”  I really expected Ashley to end up in the hospital or something.

Four: I did like seeing how Isabelle changed over the course of the book.  By the end of the book, she was starting to deal with the death of her father, and she got to the point where she went over a day without throwing up, and I like seeing that change in her.

Five: Danielle Ferland seem to narrate a teenage girl pretty well, but there was nothing about her performance that really stood out to me.  I wouldn’t avoid any books narrated by her, but I’m also not running out to see what else she’s narrated.

Six: This has more to do with the actual CD’s I checked out with the library, but there were a couple tracks on the last disk that were a little funky, and went super fast, so there are a few minutes I ended up missing…including the very end.  I should probably say something when I return it.

Seven: Isabelle goes to group therapy, and Trish wants to see her individually…but it seems like no one ever mentions anything to Isabelle’s mom.  Really?  You want to see her more, and yet you only ask Isabelle, a 13-year-old girl, about it?  That seems a little weird to me.

Eight: It seemed pretty open-ended, with not a lot of resolution, which is fine, but…I don’t know.  I think I wanted more of a conclusion.  Or even a longer book, because it wasn’t much over 4 hours, and maybe things could have been a little more resolved then they were in the book.

Nine: Her dad’s death was super-vague.  She only mentioned he died unexpectedly, and that he was sick but they didn’t know about it, so that was really weird.  Did the mom know, and not give her kids more information, or did everyone just get taken off-guard.  There was just something off about his death.

Ten: How she treated her little sister.  I’m an only child so sibling relationships are completely foreign to me, but I thought Isabelle treated her younger sister (by three years) sort of mean.

Eleven: The fact that a 13 year-old and ten-year-old are making themselves pizza from scratch and mac and cheese and have to feed themselves because their mom still cries herself to sleep at night and randomly sleeps during the day…they weren’t completely on their own, and their mom didn’t completely check out.  But they were still on their own a lot, which is weird because their mom is a college professor teaching a couple classes. The mom also seems to constantly grading papers (understandable, given it’s English she teaches).  And I’m sure the mom has meetings and office hours, but there was something off about the mom too.  Besides grieving, something didn’t fit quite right.

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2 stars.  I wanted to like it more, but it was just okay.

Book Review: Night Study by Maria V. Snyder

Night Study CoverBook: Night Study by Maria V. Snyder, Narrated by Gabra Zackman

Published January 2016 by Harlequin|Length: 11 hours, 33 minutes

Where I Got It: I got the audio book from audible.com

Series: Soulfinders #2

Genre: Adult Fantasy

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Ever since being kidnapped from the Illiais Jungle as a child, Yelena Zaltana’s has been fraught with peril. But the recent loss of her Soulfinding abilities has endangered her more than ever before. As she desperately searches for a way to reclaim her magic, her enemies are closing in, and neither Ixia nor Sitia are safe for her anymore. Especially since the growing discord between the two countries and the possibility of a war threatens everything Yelena holds dear.

Valek is determined to protect Yelena, but he’s quickly running out of options. The Commander suspects that his loyalties are divided, and he’s been keeping secrets from Valek…secrets that put him, Yelena and all their friends in terrible danger. As they uncover the various layers of the Commander’s mysterious plans, they realize it’s far more sinister that they could have ever imagined.

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I really liked Shadow Study.  Even though I really like this series so far, I’m finding that I don’t like it as much as her Study series (which I want to re-read now, because it’s been a while, but that’s besides the point).

There’s a lot going on, and a lot of things are happening that I never expected.  Like, we get to spend a lot of time with Valek, and we learn so much about him…I’m not sure why I was surprised by one particular revelation, but yet, I didn’t expect it or how it came about.  Part of me wondered if maybe it has to do with the loss of Yelena’s magic, and why she lost it.  I still want to know more about what’s going on with her magic, since it’s definitely different…and it may or may not have to do with some stuff going on.  Yelena without magic is just weird, but you also get to see her adapt to life without it, and how much she really relied on it.  And you don’t realize how much her magic is needed until we need her to use it.

I can’t wait to see how the new characters fit in and how they change things, because I’m sure that will happen.  The changing things, I mean, not the fitting in thing, though I’m sure we’ll see that in the next book.

Speaking of the next book, I need to know what happens!  Will Sitia and Ixia go to war, or can they stop it? There are so many things that I never saw coming, and I’m really curious as to how it will all work out.  If you look up one more chapter in the dictionary, I swear you will see this book next to it, because every chapter ended on a cliffhanger, but it wasn’t annoying because I wanted to keep going.

And everything with Fisk and the Helper’s Guild…I liked getting more with them, and now I want more with them. Maybe, one day, there will be a book focused on Fisk, because he really is an interesting character.

Reviewing this book while not giving anything away is a lot harder then I thought!  Just believe me when I say that there’s a lot at stake, and I’m mostly looking forward to (but also dreading a little) the last book.

And since I listened to the audio book, we can’t forget about Gabra Zackman as the narrator.  She’s done such a great job narrating this series (and the Study series as well), and I can’t picture anyone else narrating these books.  Which reminds me, I really should take a look at what else she’s narrated…

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4 stars.  I really liked Night Study!  I don’t know how Snyder is going to tie everything together, but Night Study has me wanting to know what’s going to happen next!

Audio Book Review: Memoirs Of A Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin

Memoirs Of A Teenage Amnesiac CoverBook: Memoirs Of A Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin, Narrated by Caitlin Greer

Published August 2007 by Listening Library|6 hours, 40 minutes

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

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

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If Naomi had picked tails, she would have won the coin toss. She wouldn’t have had to go back for the yearbook camera, and she wouldn’t have hit her head on the steps. She wouldn’t have woken up in an ambulance with amnesia. She certainly would have remembered her boyfriend, Ace. She might even have remembered why she fell in love with him in the first place. She would understand why her best friend, Will, keeps calling her “Chief.” She’d know about her mom’s new family. She’d know about her dad’s fiancée. She never would have met James, the boy with the questionable past and the even fuzzier future, who tells her he once wanted to kiss her. She wouldn’t have wanted to kiss him back.

But Naomi picked heads.

After her remarkable debut, Gabrielle Zevin has crafted an imaginative second novel all about love and second chances.

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I liked Memoirs Of A Teenage Amnesiac!   I didn’t love it or anything, but it’s a cute story about a girl re-discovering things after losing her memories from the last few years.

Even though the book had its predictable moments, I also had no idea how things would be resolved or where they were headed.  I really liked that, and I think it fit really well with Naomi’s story.  I didn’t quite connect with Naomi, because she definitely came across as selfish and spoiled and stupid at times.  I did feel for her, though, because I can’t begin to imagine what it would be like to have an accident and lose the last few years of your life. It’s amazing how one moment can change everything, and this book really highlights that.

A lot of the other characters were really interesting (like Will and James), and I thought their stories really brought out Naomi’s story.  There’s definitely a lot going on, but overall, the book had a really good balance of serious moments and some more light-hearted moments.  And I really liked the narrator!  Her voice sounded so familiar, and I don’t know why, because I’ve never listened anything narrated by Greer before.  But her voice was perfect for Naomi, and she was exactly how I pictured Naomi’s voice to sound.

I don’t really have much else to say about Memoirs.  I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve forgotten what I wanted to say, or if it’s because not a lot stood out to me.

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3 stars.  I liked it, and it was really cute, but I also didn’t love it.