First Line(s): She was lying on a burning pyre, hot coals beneath her back.
FAIREST is a novella in Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles series that was published between CRESS (my review) and WINTER but chronologically comes before CINDER (my review). FAIREST tells the background of Levana from her days as a teenager in her sisters court until not long after she becomes queen of Luna. Its a prequel story and can act almost as a standalone and for me its a book that I wish I had skipped. In the Lunar Chronicles books Levana is the big bag, the character that is the most feared and the ultimate evil that Cinder and her merry band of misfits has to beat. But in FAIREST Levana comes across as a paranoid, obsessed, and not quite on her rocker. She's more pathetic than terrifying and as such she looses something in my eyes as a result.
What was interesting about FAIREST was the background it gives of events that happen before Cinder and company are born. Its interesting to see Luna's side of the conflict with Earth and the origins of the idea behind Letimosis. There are seeds in this story that turn into story lines in the main series books and its also interesting to see some of the characters before they were teenagers. As a whole though I don't really see the point of FAIREST in the series and if you aren't totally in love with the Lunar Chronicles then you might want to skip it as I wish I had done.
The narrator for FAIREST is the same as in the other books, Rebecca Soler, and I almost wish that they had chosen a different voice for Levana as a way to separate her from the rest of the characters. FAIREST is the darkest of the Lunar Chronicles books and Soler's voice is almost too light for the story. Though as a whole I do always enjoy what Soler brings to this series and its part of why I keep returning to the audio versions of the book. Especially since I tried and failed many times to get into the print version of FAIREST.
Place(s) Traveled To: London, England // St Petersburg, Russia // San Francisco, California // Coral Sea (Future)
First Line(s): My hand shakes as I brace myself against the brick wall.
Its no secret that I can be picky with books and so I was a little wary of Claudia Gray's A Thousand Pieces of You as it was a book a lot of my friends were talking about and hyped up books and I don't always get along. Since I do like audiobooks I thought that I would try A Thousand Pieces of You in that format and was a little unsure of it at first. I didn't trust one of the main characters and then there was that learning curve of trying to figure out just what was going on. A Thousand Pieces of You thrusts you right into the action and while I liked it I just wish there was a little more explanation at the start on what was going on.
By the 50% point though I was totally hooked on this story. I mostly loved the events in Russia and I think that was in part because they were Theo-less. I just got such a creepy vibe from him and that was in part due to the age difference between him and Marguerite. What I did like, was Marguerite. She was a strong character who was just trying to find the truth about what happened to her father. I liked how she wasn't boy crazy and that she made the best of all the various situations that she found herself in. I didn't always agree with her choices when she was living the lives of other Marguerite's but I do understand why she made them.
Overall, I did enjoy A Thousand Pieces of You. Once the story got going I couldn't listen fast enough though there were moments where things seemed to contradict themselves and I found that frustrating. There were things that happened that certain people shouldn't have known. However, things got to be a bit shaky at the end with hints of WTF-ery that just made me roll my eyes. There were things that happened that made me roll my eyes and I think it took away from the story a bit as it pulled back some of the earlier punches that this novel threw.
The ending of this also starts to set the stage for things to come in the next book in the series and while I get that the seeds need to be set I do think that there were times they were a bit distracting in A Thousand Pieces of You. That said though, this is a book that I would recommend as overall it is a fun and unique read. If you like audiobooks then you might want to check this one out as Tavia Gilbert did an amazing just bringing this book to life. Gilbert didn't have it easy either as there were many accents that she needed to cover throughout the length of this story. Accents can always be such a tricky thing in an audiobook and Gilbert nails them every single time.
Place(s) Traveled To: London, England (1666) // Washington, DC (23rd Century) // Chinocteague, North Carolina (2016)
First Line(s): There are forty-seven rules every Shifter must obey. I'd broken all but two of them.
Twist by Karen Akins is the sequel to last year's Loop (my review) and the conclusion of the duology started in that book. Twist was a book that I was really excited to read beause I loved Loop so very much and I was really looking forward to more Finn and Brie snarky goodness. Only what I was hoping for and what Twist actually was never really meshed in my head. Twist quickly falls into the 'lets separate the happy couple' trope and I, for one, hated that. So much of what I loved in Loop was missing in Twist because there wasn't a whole lot of time with Brie and Finn in the same place. Instead Brie was almost always with Wyck who she was pretending to date and then getting the occasional clue from future Brie just as now Brie was about to end things.
*pauses for a big sigh*
Oh my stars did this annoy me more in this book than in the first one. So much crypticness that lead to so many misunderstandings when everything could have more easily been resolved if the characters just TALKED TO EACH OTHER. Regular readers on my blog know that lack of communication as a plot point is one of my biggest pet peeves. Head banging against the wall inducing even. And since much of Twist relies on this trope, well, lets just say that it wasn't a quick read for me. I wasn't as engaged in this book and kept putting it aside in favor of other books.
Despite my annoyances I still got invested in the story...just not as much as I would have liked. My heart still broke but it wasn't until around the 80% mark that I felt things really take off in the story. Up until then I may have been fine just putting this one aside forever and never reading it until the end. I still liked Brie and her snark but I wasn't a huge fan on where Akins took her characters in this one. Which is always a danger, I suppose, when characters in a series find their happily for now at the end of the first book. But with all the other things going on in Brie's world, what with the changing timelines and all, why did we need the added drama of a separation as well. For me, Twist would have been stronger if Finn and Brie spent the book working together and becoming stronger as a couple. Not spending most of it apart and having to deal with bad characters from the fist book getting a redemption story.
Then you have the ending. An ending that I'm still trying to decide on if I like it or not. I mean I get it, I think it fits with the story. But at the same time its a little unsatisfying to me as a reader. I just wanted ALL THE THE THINGS and I didn't get them. At least, not in the way that I wanted them to be. I still think that Karen Akins is a strong writer and I loved her world building. I will still eagerly pick up her next book but while I will re-read Loop I don't think that Twist is a book that I will pick up again. It was hard enough to finish the first time and I don't think I want to put myself through that again.
First Line(s): If he touches her, I swear I'm going to rip out his guts with my bare hands and send them to his next of kin for lunch.
My choice to pick up Bruiser by Neal Shusterman was two-fold, first it was a Neal Shusterman book and I was curious to see what his writing style was like outside the world of Unwind. And second, the audio was narrated by Nick Pohdel, Kate Rudd and Luke Daniels - three narrators that I really enjoy. Its also narrated by Laura Hamilton but she was an unknown to me at the time and of the 4 narrators I liked her narration the least. Her part was that of Bruiser's little brother, Cody, and that was a character that annoyed the ever loving crap out of me (think Carl on The Walking Dead) and Hamilton almost sounded like a cartoon as she read his POV scenes. But Pohdel, Rudd, and Daniels shined and I fell more in love with their narration styles than I had been before.
The story of Bruiser is a bit harder to talk about because to talk about it risks giving away the very thing that makes this book special. At its heart though Brusier is a story of misunderstandings, forgiveness, and friendship. Brewster, nicknamed Bruiser, by his classmates is a loaner and is always getting into trouble. He has a reputation of being a bad boy with a bad attitude and so everyone stays away. Then one day he and Bronte strike up a conversation and they talk. This happens a few times and Bronte sees something underneath the gruff, standoffish persona of Brewster and the two start to fall in love. This is something that Bronte's twin brother, Tennyson, wants to try and stop and he does what he can to come between the two. Tennyson is a popular kid in school and everyone likes him. His reputation is to be the cool kid, the guy on top, the one that everyone wants to be friends with because he's so charismatic and nice. Only as the story progresses you learn that the ones you think are nice aren't so nice and the ones you think are bad aren't so bad.
Brusier is such a layered story and each chapter, each POV change just leads you deeper into its depths. Its a slow reveal but then also one that is not impossible to figure out. The foreshadowing parts I could have done without and then there were some things that the characters did that nearly broke my heart. But overall, this was a story that I enjoyed. It kept me on the edge of my seat and I was invested in how each of the characters storylines would play out. With the exception of Cody, because even though he was a child, I just didn't like him. Its so hard to write believable children in books sometimes and this is one case that fails. Cody is whiny, selfish and entitled and by the end I really didn't care what happened to him. I found his POV moments to be distracting and I just really wanted to return to Bronte, Tennyson or Brewster as I felt they were the only characters to go through any real growth. Who they were at the start was different than who they were at the end.
This book will tough your heart strings and tug on them and fill you up with emotion. So many emotions. Even with the foreshadowing and the impending sense of dread that unfolds as you read (or listen) to the story and yet you can't stop listening because you are filled with a burning desire to know what happens. Shusterman, as usual, has a gift with world building and storytelling that just sucks the reader in and won't let them go until the story is over. Even then you are left with residuals and wonderings of what ifs as you think about where the story might go if it went on just a little longer. Bruiser is a story built on its characters and its such a strong cast. Its a book that I knew little about before picking it up and I was glad of that as the story unfolded. This was one of my favorite audios of 2014 and its a story that I highly recommend. There is something in it for everyone.