This review was originally posted on Emily's Reading RoomAudio Review: I feel like this is a little redundant from my other reviews, but Elizabeth EvaThis review was originally posted on Emily's Reading RoomAudio Review: I feel like this is a little redundant from my other reviews, but Elizabeth Evans nails the narration in this book. It's a behemoth at 20 hours long, but I was consistently hooked by not only the story, but the lovely dimension that Evans brings to all the characters. This book took me a month to listen to (especially since I had an unfortunate accident where I accidentally lost disk number 14 in the gap between my cd player and the dashboard. I had to go to the place that installed my stereo and they had to take off my dashboard to retrieve it. Oops). Anyway, it's worth listening to on audio, even though it takes forever. I felt like I was immersed in the world and I got a whole month to experience it.
Review: What to say about this book. I feel more sheepish than ever about my initial reluctance to this series. I misjudged this series as candy fantasy and severely underestimated its depth. These books keep getting better and better.
One of the things that I look for in a fantasy series is attention to detail. It means that the writers I like are typically not "pantsers." This means they don't dump a manuscript on the page and fix it later. (There isn't anything wrong with this, don't feel bad if this is your method of writing). I have googled to see if Sarah J. Maas is a plotter or a pantser and I haven't been able to find the answer. Anyway, I suspect she's a plotter. Here's why: everything that happens in this book means something. Conversations or little throwaway actions by minor characters end up coming into play later. There isn't much more as a reader that thrills me than this. (Yes, I'm a nerd). But, to really feel invested in a series, I like knowing that each book builds out the world bigger and bigger and that each character has something to contribute. As an added bonus, this level of detail makes the series EVEN BETTER when you re-read it.
I mentioned this in my review of Crown of Midnight, and it still applies here. I can't believe the limits Maas pushes her characters to. It's clear she knows them, their fears and their weaknesses. And while no death or event feels cheap, this is a book that will pull all kinds of emotional and empathetic strings.
One of the things I was absolutely not expecting, was the addition of Manon and the witches. This is a storyline that I can't wait to follow and explore, because it's incredibly rich. As one of the main points of view in this novel, I was initially puzzled at Manon's presence. She's very unlikeable. But, the relationship and the tiny fissures I'm seeing in that character are exciting. And, it's another hallmark of good, compelling writing. Manon is not the main character, but I feel just as invested in her story arc as Celaena's.
One last thing, Chaol. At the end of Crown of Midnight, I knew pretty firmly where I stood with his relationship to Celaena. Spoiler for Crown of Midnight: (view spoiler)[Once the incident with Nehemia happened, along with Celaena's reaction, I knew their relationship was over. (hide spoiler)] As I went throughout this book, I'm further solidified in my resolve. There are some things that a relationship doesn't recover from. And while I could be dead wrong, I feel like I understand Celaena enough at this point to say I think it's too late. Of course, the series isn't over, and a lot can change, but there you have it.
Essentially, if you love high or epic fantasy, this series is a winner. I'm stamping my seal of approval (Oooh, I should make one of those) on it....more
Audio Review: Nick Podehl does a great job with the voice of Mickey. I was also impressed with the diversity of voices that appeared in the book. OneAudio Review: Nick Podehl does a great job with the voice of Mickey. I was also impressed with the diversity of voices that appeared in the book. One of my favorites was Buddy, whose slight lisp and eerily quiet voice made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. My only complaint was that I really didn't like the adult female voices. It can be tough to get a convincing female voice, and I felt like they were a little too breathy. But, Podehl did a great job keeping the suspense and tension going in the story, and I very much enjoyed the audio.
Book Review: I haven't read any of Harlan Coben's other novels, since his usual genre isn't my style. But, a YA mystery just seemed to be a nice break from my regular norm. And, I'm glad I picked it up.
On the surface, the plot seemed a little lackluster. And, after an hour or two, I really wasn't sure where the story was going to go, or even if I cared. But, there were some very unexpected additions to the plot that made it much deeper than I thought at first sight. As Mickey delves deeper into the disappearance of Ashley, he learns a lot more about his parents, specifically his father, and the type of work that he did before he died. Add another layer of dealing with a mother that just can't handle her grief, and you have a very compelling plot. I was pleasantly surprised by how FUN this book was to listen to, even with all the dark themes. Interspersed with the doom and gloom, there are some really funny moments. A lot of the interaction between Ema and Mickey is sweet and endearing.
While I found the plot to have many dimensions, I was disappointed by the lack of characters with dimension. Mickey was an all around nice guy, but he was very reactive and just allowed the plot to kind of pull him along. I liked Ema a lot, but I found Spoon to be a very annoying placeholder. He was a nerd, socially awkward, but conveniently had access to the things that Mickey needed to continue sleuthing. Sometimes his dialogue and actions were so predictable that I could say his words before he did. So, anytime he came around, there was a lot of eye rolling. So, as a reader that is really into character development, I'm just not sure that this is a book that's going to stick with me.
Will I continue with the rest of the series? I'm not sure. The last half of the book had a very compelling story that I'd like to see through to the end, but Mickey definitely needs to step up his game to keep me around.
Sexuality: Mild. A couple scenes take place at a strip club, but it isn't described. Drugs/Alcohol: Mild. Mickey's mother is a drug addict. Profanity: Mild Violence: Mild. Punches thrown and the like....more
The assault by the virus on Kaelyn's neighborhood begins as an itch that you just can't satisfy. Then comes the coughing, the hysteria, and eventuallyThe assault by the virus on Kaelyn's neighborhood begins as an itch that you just can't satisfy. Then comes the coughing, the hysteria, and eventually death. And no one is safe, but as the population and Kaelyn soon learns, there isn't anywhere to run to either. Which results in chaos and havoc that threatens to destroy everything and everyone she knows.
This book greatly reminded me of Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer. Which, if you know me at all, is one of my all-time favorite books. There is something really compelling about being in the thick of a crisis and learning how to survive until either help arrives, or the storm calms. The Way We Fall definitely falls into that category, and even shares the same narrative style (diary format) with the aforementioned Life as We Knew It.
However, unlike Miranda, Kaelyn has a lot more warning, and information, about what is specifically going on. And, as far as she knows, this illness is strictly confined to her small island in Canada. But, that's not to take away from the very scary situation. Initially, it isn't known how the virus spreads or how to prevent it. Even with further research, the hospital is flooded with patients, and there isn't any reliable way to get information out to people.
Kaelyn is a great narrator. She isn't whiny, takes the situation into her own hands, and is a great protector of her family. And with the diary style narrative, you really get a sense of her feelings as some truly horrible things happen to her and her family. There is also a very satisfying romance that ensues.
But, what I loved about this story was that there were so many characters that just did the right thing. Of course, there were plenty that were out to save their own skin and just do whatever they had to survive. But, for every one of those, there was another that was willing to make huge sacrifices and fill a need.
Another fantastic perk is that, from what I can tell, the book is pretty scientifically sound. At least in the capacity that I didn't have to suspend any disbelief about how the virus spread, or how it affected people.
So, there you have it. A satisfying apocalypse book with a plague, romance, and likeable characters. If that isn't enough to get you to pick it up, I don't know what is....more
It has been several generations since the human race was changed forever through a disastrous genetic exReview posted July 18 at Emily's Reading Room.
It has been several generations since the human race was changed forever through a disastrous genetic experiment that caused the Reduction. The Luddites, who despise innovation and technology, keep the Reduced on their estates as slaves.
Elliot North is the youngest daughter of the North estate. As a Luddite, she is born to social privilege. But, even so, the estate is near financial ruin. The Luddite's control is slipping as a new generation of children that are innovative and bright are born to the Reduced. Elliot's childhood friend, Kai, is one of these children. When Elliot does not run away with Kai to the Post enclave, she hears nothing from him for four years. And when he re-enters her life, it is obvious that much has changed.
My excitement for this book has been slowly building for months. I have not read Persuasion, the Jane Austen novel that inspired For Darkness Shows the Stars, but am a fan of Austen's other works. My anticipation was further built by the raving reviews that were popping up in my google reader and goodreads page.
I could not imagine a more satisfying story. I was up late into the night on a Friday, and spent a good portion of the day Saturday devouring every single page. Combining the elements of a world torn apart by a disaster that decimated so much of the human race, with the classic story that Austen created, it was a match made in heaven for me. Though the story is not heavy on the elements surrounding the genetic experiment that lead to the ruin of humanity, there is enough to make me suspend disbelief to fill in the holes. And I have to admit that as the daughter of a botanist that works with genetically modified plants, I was very much cheering Elliot on. In fact, through the novel I was firmly in Elliot's court and never wavered in my support of everything that she did, even though at times her reasoning was flawed.
In regards to Kai, I have to say that his coldness to Elliot at times took my breath away. I think that this was very cleverly offset by the letters they secretly wrote to each other as children that were interspersed throughout the novel. It is obvious that both Elliot and Kai were hurt deeply by Kai's departure. And with each cutting remark, I was heartbroken for Elliot. I wanted to protect her and just shake Kai. And yet, I wanted Kai to understand and overcome his disappointment and grief, and just work it out!
This book was everything I hoped it would be and so much more. The eventual romance is one of the best that I've ever read and ranks right up there with my favorites. I'll happily admit to having a lump form in my throat several times, and even shedding a few tears at the end. A re-read of this story will definitely be in order very soon. If you haven't read For Darkness Shows the Stars, believe me when I tell you that it deserves to be next on your reading list....more
It is an understatement to say that I was looking forward to this book. I have been dying to read the conclusion. And, it is everything I wanted it toIt is an understatement to say that I was looking forward to this book. I have been dying to read the conclusion. And, it is everything I wanted it to be and more. It's over 600 pages long, but I read it in one day. I haven't sat down with a book like that in years. More comprehensive review to come....more
Hadley Sullivan missed her flight. Sure, it was the flight to see her father marry another woman. The woman that Hadley blames for breaking apart herHadley Sullivan missed her flight. Sure, it was the flight to see her father marry another woman. The woman that Hadley blames for breaking apart her family. But, by luck (or is it fate?) she meets Oliver, who is flying to London on the next flight. Hadley is assigned seat 18A, and Oliver seat 18C. In a 24-hour time period, chance meetings and twists of fate create a novel about family, love, and destiny.
This book was recommended to me on twitter. I got my copy at BEA last May, and as the release date rolled around, I saw lots of good things about it. But, it just didn't seem my style. I mean, come on, instant love? That's a recipe for disaster in my book.
But, don't let the title fool you. Even though this book is set in a 24-hour time period, the relationship that develops between Oliver and Hadley seems just as real as the slow burn relationships that I love so very much. Hadley's circumstances for traveling to London impact her deeply, and it shows. Oliver is similarly dealing with some very heavy issues, though their reasons are not immediately apparent. And, with a story all about these issues, you would expect to have a book full of sadness, but I was blown away by just how CUTE this story was. The happy and the sad balanced each other perfectly.
Some of my favorite passages in the book relate to Hadley's relationship with her father. Hadley reflects on their mutual love for literature, and the special bond that they once shared. Some of her experiences so directly mirrored my own experiences with my father, that I really felt her pain for the strain that their relationship was under.
Simply put, I devoured this book in one evening. It's the kind of book that you should read when you are feeling particularly sappy, because it made my tender heart sing....more
There isn't much I can say about the premise of this title that won't give away a lot of the plot in the first 4 books. Cammie wakes up in the middleThere isn't much I can say about the premise of this title that won't give away a lot of the plot in the first 4 books. Cammie wakes up in the middle of the Swiss Alps with no memory of the past summer. After running to uncover the plot and the people behind the mysterious Circle of Cavan, a terrorist organization bent on killing Cammie, she has to recover her tracks to find out what she discovered last summer.
The Gallagher Girls series is one of my absolute favorites. Cammie and her friends are smart, resourceful, and so very girl. Even though this book deals with some of the biggest issues of any of Ally Carter's previous works, there are still plenty of laugh out loud moments. But, this is definitely the darkest of the Gallagher Girl books. Cammie has to come to grips with some very tough problems, including how to get back in her friends' good graces after she leaves them behind to figure out the clues her father found before his disappearance.
Fans of the series will be pleased with the appearances of some of their favorite characters. Including, but certainly not limited to: Zach, Aunt Abby, Agent Townsend, and of course, Cammie's loyal friends.
As with all of Carter's novels, I am pleased to report that the ending is very satisfying. Though I can hardly wait to get my hands on the final book in this series, its conclusion will be bittersweet....more
For thousands of years, there have been no new souls. The same souls occupy new bodies. Until Ana. Ana is a newsoul, or as her "mother" Li calls her,For thousands of years, there have been no new souls. The same souls occupy new bodies. Until Ana. Ana is a newsoul, or as her "mother" Li calls her, a "nosoul." When Ana finally leaves her mother's home, she travels to the city of Heart. In a heart-pounding encounter with a sylph, she meets Sam. Together they work to discover the meaning behind Ana's birth and who was responsible.
My biggest hang-up in starting this book was the reincarnation thing. I wasn't sure how it was going to be written, and since it isn't something that I believe in religiously, it could be a total miss. But, I actually found the concept to be quite fascinating. Particularly since in this instance, the reincarnated souls retain their memories from previous lives. So, old grudges carry on to generations. In some cases even romantic relationships continue through different bodies. Death is of no consequence since a soul will just gain a new body within a year or two.
The world-building in INCARNATE is sparse. There is a bit of magic involved (along with mythical creatures: dragons, sylphs, and the like), but much of everything else is very ordinary. Though the world is simple, it wasn't distracting. I would like to see a little more from the world in the next books, since I think that there is a lot of interesting things that can be done with it.
I liked Ana, a lot. There is an unexpected theme of abuse and the emotional toll it takes on even the strongest of people. Ana could have been much more bitter and unlikable because of the treatment at the hand of Li. But, once she leaves, she looks towards Heart as holding the key to who she is and why she was born. That is a strong character. Sam is equally likable. He is gentle, understanding, and musically talented. Definitely gets a spot on the coveted "good guys" list. Oh, and I'm going to stick my "slow burn" relationship sticker on this one too. Yes!
I did not go into this book with high expectations. But, I was very pleasantly surprised. I'll definitely be checking out the rest of the series when it's available....more
Every November in Thisby, the capaill uisce (water horses) rise from the surf. They are strong, fast, and deadly. And every November, the people of thEvery November in Thisby, the capaill uisce (water horses) rise from the surf. They are strong, fast, and deadly. And every November, the people of the island test fate by riding the horses in The Scorpio Races. Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. Kate (Puck) Connelly never intended to enter the races, but must do so to hold on to her brother for as long as possible. As the first female to ever enter the race, and the only one not on a capaill uisce, the odds are stacked against her.
Even after striking out on Maggie's Wolves of Mercy Falls novel, I decided to give this one a try, since it seemed so very different from her previous series. That, and the fact that it was selected as my March title for Tell Me What to Read sealed the deal.
Told from alternating perspectives, the story begins in a time that was unclear to me. There are cars and other mentions of technology, but nothing else that could firmly cement it in one time or another.
Readers who really enjoy a fast plot with exciting twists and turns will find that The Scorpio Races does not fit the bill. But, as one who loves characters that jump (or in this case gallop) right off the page, I didn't mind the slow pace of the plot. I enjoyed taking my time to get to know Puck and Sean and their motivations behind entering the very dangerous Scorpio Races.
As I mentioned before, the writing in the Wolves of Mercy Falls really didn't speak to me. But, the writing in this one just hit the spot. From the very first page I felt the danger of the races. But, I also felt the atmosphere. The salt in the air and the sand that gets everywhere. The fever pitch of the excitement of the festival. Puck's desperation and need to keep her brother close. Her pull to the island. All of it was beautifully crafted and created a sense of magic through the entire book.
So, chalk one up for the man-eating horses. Because I loved this book....more
Divergent deserves a round of applause for breathing some life into a genre that was beginning to wilt.
There were so many things I loved about this boDivergent deserves a round of applause for breathing some life into a genre that was beginning to wilt.
There were so many things I loved about this book. Right from the start we are introduced to a society that has created a system based on values, which seems like a great idea, right? As you read, you try to figure out which faction would best represent your values. Do you value courage, honesty, selflessness, or knowledge? Soon you discover, along with Tris, that it's not as clear as it first appears. Breaking rank from your family is dishonorable, and not all factions are considered equal. Even within factions there are tensions and disagreements about what they truly value. All of this together creates an internal and external conflict that is so complex and interesting, I couldn't put this book down.
Tris was a fantastic female lead. She has the grit and determination to be a warrior, but also a kind-hearted nature, whether or not she realizes it. The romance was not so unexpected for me, as I saw it coming from a mile away. No matter though, it was sweet and well-developed.
While the writing was not as well-crafted as the Hunger Games, meaning that there aren't any specific passages that I can look back on and think that they were beautifully written, the whole story flowed very nicely. I've found lately that some writers, in an attempt to convey urgency in their writing, end up making their plot disjointed and the pacing irregular. That definitely was not a problem in Divergent.
I am eagerly anticipating the release of the sequel, Insurgent, next year. And thanks to the lack of a cliffhanger ending, I'm not being bullied into reading it either. If you haven't read this one, definitely pick up a copy and prepare to be enthralled. ...more
Color me shocked, I loved this book. I don't love paranormal romance. I generally find it shallow and uninteresting and all about the romance. For theColor me shocked, I loved this book. I don't love paranormal romance. I generally find it shallow and uninteresting and all about the romance. For the first few chapters I thought, "Eh, this is the same old thing I've read a hundred times." Then, it all changed.
I don't want to give anything away, but the main character does something in this book around chapter 13 that had me doing some serious celebrating. Clara is a woman after my own heart. She understands her destiny and her purpose, but she doesn't allow herself to be trampled on.