And I totally picked it up because it was a short audio, which happens to be ALL that my fuzzy brain was capable of listening to after...more
LOVED THIS BOOK.
And I totally picked it up because it was a short audio, which happens to be ALL that my fuzzy brain was capable of listening to after the #italong debacle.
Also, I trust Coben as a mystery/suspense writer because I've liked both of the adult books that I've read. Plus, he's pretty darn prolific, so that has to mean something, right? Of course, part of me was a bit weary because it's like singers/musicians who go into acting....sometimes they just shouldn't. And maybe this would be the case for Coben's transition into middle grades.
Ummm, I had NOTHING to worry about. This book is hardcore. Hardcore enough that part of me actually wished I had a kid of my own to tell him to read it.
So what's it about? Well, here's the thing...I don't want to give up too many of the deets because after the initial disc there were plenty of times I just had to take a "whoa" moment. But, briefly. Mickey is living with his uncle because his dad died in a car accident and his mom's kinda went off the deep end after his death. Mickey has this hottie of a girlfriend named Ashley and things don't suck as bad as they did. But then, Ashley disappears. Like, her parents don't even acknowledge her. So Mickey is all hell bent on finding her which leads him to a new friend, Emie (who knows how it's spelled because I was listening, but she is a rock star!) and Spoon (who is much more like the Robin side kick to Mickey's Batman superness). The enter the underworld of this town and there are moments when I feel like Stabler (SVU peeps) is going to show up.
And the ending. Oh the ending. My mouth dropped and I wanted to hit my head on the steering wheel because THIS ENDING is the reason why I hate finding series because I want to know what happens next NOW and count.
How about that audio? Once again I'm winning in the narration department. Nick Podehl did an amazing job changing his voice in believable ways. There's even a thug with a lisp and it works! Also kudos for a male doing a decent female voice.
I am not a big werewolf fan. I can totally get into the vamp scene. After all THEY'RE sparkly. But werewolves are right up there with zombies. ESPECIA...more
I am not a big werewolf fan. I can totally get into the vamp scene. After all THEY'RE sparkly. But werewolves are right up there with zombies. ESPECIALLY if we're talking romance. I mean...animals or the undead? No thank you.
So. I had no desire whatsoever to read the Shiver trilogy. (1) It's about wolves and (2) it's a trilogy. But then I listened to The Scorpio Races which moved me from a horse-hating fool who ended up eating her own words and adoring it and I figured if there was anyone out there who would convince me that werewolves don't suck, it would be Ms. Stiefvater.
And I guess she sorta did. There is a huge truth in the fact that Stiefvater researches her folklore and then takes those amazing stories and turns them into her own. Because of THAT, I utterly dig the 'behind the scenes' of these weres, their mythos was pretty okay.
Still. She didn't sell me enough to necessarily want to finish the trilogy. I'm pretty okay with how the story ended in the first book and although it's not as though life is resolved, I can walk away from it peacefully.
And the narration? Definitely a winner. I enjoy the two narrators for alternating chapters. I don't think it would have been as fantastic without that element. (less)
I obviously understand why this book made such noise in the literary community, both young adult and not.
While listening to Between Shades of Gray I...more
I obviously understand why this book made such noise in the literary community, both young adult and not.
While listening to Between Shades of Gray I kept thinking, man where have I heard something so familiar? Of course it's pretty obvious. Young Lina's story of being a girl in the midst of war mirrors all of the stories that we heard about the Jews in Nazi Germany.
The difference here? Lina wasn't Jewish. Or German. She was Lithuanian and it wasn't Hitler who ordered her family to be taken from their homes to die in work camps, but Stalin.
I have a colleague at work who is Russian. Well, she's not exactly Russian, only kinda. What I mean by this is, her country (Ukraine) was taken by Russia and so she identifies with both. She's the one who recommended this book to me. Ignorantly, I told her that I had long since reached my fill of World War II books (don't judge, my grandma lived in East Germany during the war so I grew up hearing her first hand experiences).
I listened to this book over the summer and IMMEDIATELY upon returning to work apologized to her about my cavalier position when she first said I should read it. She was surprised and it obviously didn't keep HER up at night like it did me.
But folks...this book is Important. Because it tells the story that we don't really spend time listening to, and that's about Stalin and his malicious reign over Russia and how so many people lost their homes because they thought differently.
Because of THAT this book is Important. My mouth was agape most of the time.
As far as the audio goes....the narration was superb. The accents were believable (possibly real?) but didn't make me twitch in the ears trying to figure out what was being said. (less)
How a book began a 1 star and moved to a 5-er OR how audio books can sell even the most who-cares-story.
I checked out Scorpio Races from the library b...moreHow a book began a 1 star and moved to a 5-er OR how audio books can sell even the most who-cares-story.
I checked out Scorpio Races from the library because EVERYONE raved about it last year. "Ohemgee this is the best fantasy book in forever" I shrugged shoulders and moved on. But then, I was browsing through audio downloads that were available immediately because I desperately needed some company in the car and whadoyaknow this popped up.
I guess for a Young Adult book it's pretty lengthy at 400 pages (are the words big?) and I'm going to tell you something that will probably shock the pages outta you. I disliked this book until maybe the last 100 pages (1).
So why the meh attitude and how did it change?
If you aren't familiar with Scorpio Races, in a nutshell, islanders tame vicious water horses once a year for a grisly race down the island. The winner receives money and the losers are thrilled to be alive. Seriously. These water horses are viscous, the seem to love human flesh.
Sean has been the winner for the past several years and this race proves to be the most meaningful one yet - he'll get his financial freedom AND his horse.
Puck is one of the competitors, coming in as a first year. And oh yeah. Puck's a girl AND she's going to ride a horse NOT a water horse. There's some family drama going on that makes it nearly impossible for her not to race.
So we have competition. We have female-powerfulness. We DON'T have romance (initially)! So far three things that should make it a winner. BUT...folks I have a confession.
I d.i.s.l.i.k.e. horses. Like seriously DISLIKE. I don't get it. I don't understand people who go all ga-ga over the beasts. I don't think they're cute, pretty, svelte, beautiful, [insert any other adjective here]. Nor do I think they're especially loveable (although I have friends who swear by it).
Why did I continue listening then? The audio version of this book is fantastic. Ahmayzing. The narrators are wonderful and engaging and they have accents. I truly felt as though I was listening to their side of the story while the book was going on. They were THAT engaging. Plus all of the other characters were kinda interesting.
So I ignored the horses. Which was terribly difficult to do considering they were EVERYWHERE.
And then something happened. I can't remember really when my opinion shifted, but I do know that I'd leave working out and make it home just to sit in my driveway to listen longer.
By the time the book was over, I found myself rating it five stars. Although I admit, I don't know if I would have continued reading if I wasn't listening.
(1) 100 pages is merely an estimate since it was an audio book.(less)
This book was FREAKIN' scary. Like, had I read this in my tweens, I would have been as scared as reading any promising Stephen King book. Y'know how m...moreThis book was FREAKIN' scary. Like, had I read this in my tweens, I would have been as scared as reading any promising Stephen King book. Y'know how most YA paranormal or "horror" books just allude to the scary scenes. Like, maybe someone gets murdered and they tell that it happens and that there was some blood and the PEOPLE were scared. And that's it. Cut scene. Move on.
Anna Dressed in Blood does NOT do that. Nope. Black does not hold back. She let's it all gush out. There's bludgeoning and purging and blood and decaying flesh. Do you get it? This book is not for the faint of heart.
And it's a series? There's going to be more? Can't wait.
So the scoop.
Cas is a ghost hunter. He sorta inherited the job from his dad (and a long legacy, I've gathered). Outside of ghost hunting he's also into avenging his father, who happened to get murdered by a ghost. Cas and his mom travel to a new town to find Anna Dressed in Blood. Legend is she was murdered on her way to her school dance. Now, she resides in her old decrepit house, killing sqauters or whoever else gets in her path. [Um and she SERIOUSLY kills them. Enter the gore].
This town separates Cas's other experiences because he forms friendships and falls in love. So there's more than ghost hunting going on here.
The mystery behind the ghost wasn't very mysterious but it didn't matter. The gore. Can I stress that enough?
Let's talk about the audio aspect...
It sucked. Thankfully the story kept me entertained because if this had been one of those mediocre books the narrator would have just put the knife in it. The voice was nasaly and there were few differentiation with the characters...EXCEPT for Anna's voice, which was suppose to have an accent - I think. But instead, it was just a tragic mockery. I hope that the narrator has a day job because I don't think audio books will pay the bills.(less)
This book. THIS BOOK. I spent the first half (maybe more) wondering what in the world was going on. I seriously had a moment where I thought about loo...moreThis book. THIS BOOK. I spent the first half (maybe more) wondering what in the world was going on. I seriously had a moment where I thought about looking for some homemade sparks notes version. And then the book just came together in this big WHOOSH and my mouth was hanging wide open and I was sitting in my car in my driveway waiting for a perfect spot to stop the audio. BUT THERE WASN'T ONE because it was SO FREAKIN' good and instead I just sat there, listening longer.
Franny Billingsley really stepped up her game. It is hard for me to admit this, but man did this book manipulate me, you know...in that I'm feeling frustrated but I'm still going to come back for me. (I've read other reviews and this seems to be a trend).
So what is this book about? Geez. I can't even go there. It's about a young girl named Briony who is a TOTAL unreliable narrative in this brilliant way. I mean she just loathes herself and the whole time you're gonna be sitting there scratching your forehead because it just doesn't make sense why she would. Oh and then there's Rose, her slow sister, who just rocks my world. Rose will always be a favorite character because her personality was full and complete and Real. It's impossible to tell what Rose's ailment is, and it's presented that she fell from a swing and hit her head, not making her right. But she's amazing and brilliant and I'm gushing, I know.
Then there's Eldric who comes from the city and quickly becomes a good friend of the sisters AND OF COURSE there's FEELINGS on Briony's part
And there's Old Ones and Magic and this villainous bog spirit who is causing strife. There's legend and a Moon Child, even if she's not really a child. There's a father who's a priest who can't see what's in front of him and a dead stepmother who still controls Briony's thoughts.
Have you not read this yet? Get to it.
Thoughts on the Audio Version
I cannot exclaim enough how the narrator, Susan Duerden, really made this book. Because this is a fantasy novel, albeit contemporary fantasy (is that what you would call it when it mixes current world with fantastical?) and Duerden creates the atmosphere perfectly. She will transfix who ears, tickling them with individual character voices, all with their own charming accent. (less)
Okay, let’s just get this out right away because it’s surely not a spoiler but TOTALLY relevant to the ahmazingness of this book.
The kids in The Faul...moreOkay, let’s just get this out right away because it’s surely not a spoiler but TOTALLY relevant to the ahmazingness of this book.
The kids in The Fault in Our Stars have Cancer. All of them. They all meet in a survivor’s support group, but it’s one of those survivor groups where some are surviving with Cancer. Like Hazel. She’s this cool kid who lugs around an oxygen tank because she was diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer and there were tumors in your lungs but some miracle treatment shrunk them and things look better even though she feels like she’s a walking grenade because her life expectancy is so short.
Needless to say Hazel does not like to get close to people. Why bother. She’s got one foot in the door of death. She’s perfectly content reading her books and watching ANTM (um, America’s Next Top Model, who are you people who don’t know that?!?). BUT, her parents, being good parents that they are encourage her to go to the before mentioned support group. And that’s when her life gets a bit messy.
Hazel meets Augustus. Intelligent, witty, in-remission, Augustus. (He sticks cigarettes in his mouth but doesn’t light them, you know for the POWER of it; love this kid!). Hazel is in this thing where she can’t stay away from Augustus but also doesn’t want him to get uber close because well - she’s gonna die, and his cancer has an 80% survivor rate. Augustus is fierce and pretty much tells her she’s crazy, he wants to be around her.
Oh and then, to make this an even MORE beautiful book than what it already is, there’s a book that Hazel ADORES and gives to Augustus to read and he GETS IT too (readers, how important is this? We all have those books that we wish the world would get). Aaand, Hazel has questions about the end because like life there’s not really an end and there’s characters that go on without a story because theirs story was the one being told. So, Hazel and Augustus go on this mission to find out what happens to the other people. Really? How amazing is that? How many times have you wondered what happens to the people in your books, you know? Blows my mind at the adventure and romanticism.
This book reminds me (as always) of the brilliance that is John Green.
The Audio Version
I don't consider myself much of a book cryer you know? I don't know why, and maybe it's more to do with the fact that most books I read probably aren't all that sad, but I don't tear up...MUCH LESS get a full fledged stream of tears.
I owe part of that with this book because of the narrator. Her inflections were right on. Her voice was right on. The separation of the characters - AMAZING. Much like Khrystine Hvam, after I finished listening to THIS audio, I began looking for other audios that Kate Rudd has done. (I'm thinking maybe Holly Black's Tithe trilogy?)
Oh and #winning there's even a Q&A with John Green at the end.(less)
FINALLY! The first book in the series. This is my third Aunt Dimity book and as I said waaaaay back in the beginning of the discovery, it was love at...moreFINALLY! The first book in the series. This is my third Aunt Dimity book and as I said waaaaay back in the beginning of the discovery, it was love at first sight. I fully understand the term "cozy mystery"; there is just something warm and fuzzy like a treasured blankie, about these books.
Also, it was like hitting my forehead with my palm, because THIS book started all of the Aunt Dimity's. (First in a series are kinda like that, you know?!) My other two have been so sporadic: the first one read was the last one published - thanks to NG- and the second one read was dead smack in the middle. Listening to this one, and hearing how it all began was a jouyful experience and I'm determined to read the series, in well, the order intended.
I'm assuming that all cozy mysteries are similar to this style, but with Aunt Dimity's Death, the mystery itself is so available. You know, it's a life discovery sorta mystery...not this crazy CSI or Law and Order (du-dum) or even Rizzoli and Isles (which I know is based off of the books). Instead, Aunt Dimity dies and Lori finds out that all of these cherished stories her mom used to tell her and Aunt Dimity are true AND Dimity and her mom had a correspondence for nearly twenty years. Lori gets whisked off to an English cottage through the lawyers Willis & Willis to read the letters and write the preface for a published version of the Aunt Dimity's stories. Bill Willis, nerdy lawyer extraordinaire, accompanies her.
Soon Lori and Bill find out that Dimity has a secret sorrow. (Of course they find this out because Dimity is still there as a ghost in a journal - I love this aspect!) Aaaaand that's the mystery. What is Dimity's hidden sorrow. See what I mean? Totally a "mystery" that a normal person like myself would/could investigate. I love these books so much I just want to squeeze them!
The Audio Aspect
Unfortunately the audio version was sub par. And actually, to date, this might be the worst narration I've listened to. It took me forever to adjust to Moore's voice; I just found it so nasaly! And I wasn't a big fan of how she changed it for the different characters. In fact, the only character that I thought she pulled off was Aunt Dimity. (Also, a pet peeve, when she said Death it sounded like Deaf).
The voice I could have even moved past. I think that for the most part I can audibly adjust myself after listening for a long period of time, but the WORST of it was the unnecessary pauses. I think if all of these extended pauses (between chapters, between tracks, between anything and everything) the audio version would have lessened by forty five minutes. At least! I know that listen to an audio will take me longer than if I read the book myself, but I listen to be transported, because it's enhancing another sense and thus making it more enjoyable. This one, not so much.
But hey, at least she had the English accents down. :)(less)
There once was a girl with blue hair Raised by monsters in a teeth lair Secrets of her identity Kept relentlessly Until, finally, hope prevailed.
THIS BOOK! It was freakin' amazing. Seriously. I remember the hype forever ago and I was all - *shrug* *shrug* - I'll pass. After all I need another new YA series to follow like I need another grey hair. But then, I was looking for an audio (which ROCKED and I will get to that in a jiff) to pass the time driving to workout and viola.
I don't really even know where to begin and feel that no matter what I say it will not do this novel justice. If you haven't read it, you just need to quickly run out and find it.
Our main character, Karou, is a fantastic female protagonist. She's an art student in Prague with blue hair and a mysterious "other" life. Her family are monsters and she keeps this hidden from her best friend, Zuzana (who btw is such a fun secondary character; she really pops!). Brimstone, her monsterly father figure, is a wishmaster and he does so through the collection of teeth. Karou's partial identity is through these otherworldly endeavors of running Brimstone's errands. BUT whenever Karou gets a little too inquisitive about what Brimstone does with these teeth, he shuts her down.
And then there's this angel - Akiva, who is determined to shut down the portals of Brimstone's world and the human world. I admit, I was reluctant when I first found out one of the characters was an angel. I just could never jump on the winged bandwagon (give me vamps any day). But he was so different, and Taylor's world building and mythos created with the Seraphim and Chimaera was fantastical.
I cannot believe how emotionally vested I became with ALL of the characters.. I don't read much fantasy because I have a hard time connecting with both the imaginary creatures and otherworldness but this story unraveled in a magical way that I felt I apart of of it.
The Audio Aspect
It is safe to say that the narrator, Khristine Hvam, has impressed me so much I've become a HUGE audio advocate. I never thought listening to a book could pull me in the way Hvam's voice and Taylor's storytelling did. And although I know I would enjoy The Daughter of Smoke and Bone on its own, the masterful of voice made it extra special.
Hvam changes her voice for each character, but not over the top, because it doesn't take away from the story, but only adds to it. There's this fallen angel, Rasgud, who you picture to be creepy and viscerally unappealing, but then to HEAR Hvam speak for him, it's - well - trance worthy.
There were no extra sound effects but whatever Hvam could produce and she did it beautifully. I cannot repeat how I want to find all of her narrations and climb in them.(less)
EVERYONE has been talking about this book for, like, A YEAR now right? 80's driven, game-lovin, science-fiction readin' geeks unite. Essentially. I'm...moreEVERYONE has been talking about this book for, like, A YEAR now right? 80's driven, game-lovin, science-fiction readin' geeks unite. Essentially. I'm seriously one of the few people left to have read/listened/reviewed this book. Aaaand, I remember reading about it publishing week in Entertainment Weekly fully expecting to love it.
Which is probably why loving it failed miserably for me. It's like getting super excited for that fat free frozen yogurt only to realize that yeah, it's GOOD, but it's NOT gourmet ice cream. (What?! I'm hungry okay...) Ready Player One is the froyo of my 2012. It was yum but not delish.
Briefly, because as I said before, if you haven't read it have you been living under a rock?! Wade is our endearing gaming hero in a dysfic world of devastating poverty and virtual reality. When a prominent man in the VR world dies and leaves complete control of the unreal-reality to the winner of a bunch of games, the world goes wild. Imagine, if you will, if Walt Disney died and hid a key to all of the magic in the magical kingdom.
Wade, amongst his best friend and eventual love interest (and remember EVERYONE ELSE IN THE WORLD) seeks out this treasure. Swiftly on their tails is the conglomerate evil corporate entities who salivate power and control.
It's a race again time, oneself, and corporate greed. Adventuresome, yes? Crazy cool 80's reference? Yuppers. Fun times? Mostly.
This was an uphill battle for me. Like a work out really. I even thought that I would quit the book about one third of the way into it and if I wasn't in a position of not having an audio back up for my car trips, I might have.
Ultimately I'm glad that I stayed with it because the end - the whole process - was worth it. I'm not on fandom level with it like so many others, but yeah, it was a fun ride.
The Audio Aspect
I truly don't think that there would have been a better narrator chosen for this book other than Wil Wheaton. How many of you guys remember reading his blog when blogging first became a thing? If there's a cool gadgety geek out there, then Wheaton is the guy. There was nothing distracting about his reading and any lack of personal captivation was not because of him. (less)