Everyone had different facets to their personality. We’re all friends, family, and lovers – we’re runners, artists, rea...moreLink to Original Review BookTalk
Everyone had different facets to their personality. We’re all friends, family, and lovers – we’re runners, artists, readers, and gamers – we dress like cowboys, fashionistas, and sports nuts. We’re all unique and we’re all one new interest away from change.
McLean has taken change to a whole new level. Post-Parental-Divorce McLean chose to travel with Dad, moving across the country saving restaurants rather than setting up camp with Mom, her wealthy husband, and new baby twins. If McLean’s life is going to involve more “new” things – McLean is going to choose them. And she’s going to choose a new personality to go along with them. As she moves from town to town McLean has had as many new fake names and wardrobes to go along with them. Goth in one town, Student Council queen in another. Never making more lasting connections than absolutely necessary.
But at the end of her Senior Year McLean has run into a problem. She can’t seem to shake her real self. Caught exposing her actual name and forced to look at her real preferences, it’s finally time for McLean to get to know who she really is.
This was my first YA contemp audiobook. Usually I stick to something more action packed in my audio choices. Lots of YA paranormals – Stephenie Plum mysteries – even the entertaining (hilarious) Tina Fey autobiography. I was worried that a contemp (which I don’t seem very drawn to even in more traditional reading pursuits wasn’t going to keep my interest. Without all the battles, blood, kissing, and mystery I thought my mind might start to wander.
I won the book via Twitter thanks to Sarah Dessen and Penguin. Whoo Hoo to free audio books. Those babies are EXPENSIVE! Ha.
Silly me – What Happened to Goodbye ended up being very good. Far from my mind straying I found myself sitting in the car for a few extra minutes just to hear a bit more of the story. I have to give props to Dessen. She isn’t the powerhouse contemp writer for nothing. The story was a sweet, easy listen for a coming of age tale. I didn’t find McLean to be “annoying” and I sympathized with her lingering divorce issues. Her life of moving from place to place – personality to personality – was interesting and nowhere near as odd as I had worried it was going to be. All teens go through stages; personality changes. McLean’s just happened to be a bit more structured. The romance was light and secondary to the tale. McLean’s own issues, and full life – including some great and well drawn secondary characters – were central.
What really made this listen great though, was the voice of the actress: Meredith Hanger. Hanger actually sounded like a teen!?!
And the voices she used, her tone and emphasis while reading were spot on. By far the best narrator I’ve come across. It truly enhanced my experience.
Rating: 5/5 The easy listen and pitch-perfect narrator blew me away.(less)
Calla has always thought she was first and foremost a warrior but this war has taught her that she is also a...more**spoiler alert** Original Review
Calla has always thought she was first and foremost a warrior but this war has taught her that she is also a pack leader, a friend, a sister, and a lover. As the final battle approaches she finds herself ever more ensnared in the twisted logic of her mind versus her heart.
She doesn’t want to believe Ansel is the traitor everyone says he is…even if evidence proves otherwise…
She doesn’t want to believe her family’s pack may have known more of the true history…even if they attack her…
She doesn’t want to stay with the man from her past…even if his kisses still ignite passion…
She wants the man who is her future…even if he’s beginning to slip away…
The final battle is upon them all. And not everyone will make it out alive – or in love.
I’m disappointed in this last book. Not because it wasn’t a good ending to a series. Or because I wasn’t satisfied with the battles or the action; there were a lot of good things happening in this tale. It kept my attention during runs and I was always eager to come back to the story. As far as a tie up for a series is concerned Cremer did well. Satisfying without an open ending or being too pat. An extended epilogue pointing toward the possibility of future books in a companion series without hindering Calla’s final ending was well done.
What lingers in my mind is the conclusion of the love triangle. That oft used cliché in YA. A plot device ensuring character drama and reader devotion. Blah. Cremer seemingly had a new take on this construct. I’ve lavished praise on her previous two books (Nightshade and Wolfsbane) exclaiming how refreshing and intriguing it was to be presented with two men that, not only I both loved – but Calla seemed equally drawn to as well. For the bulk of the series I racked my brain. I searched for clues like a kid hunting Easter Eggs.
Who. Would. Calla. Pick?!?!
I spent a fair amount of idle running time pursuing fantasies in which a YA series would allow for a menage e trois, at least, plural marriage, at best. I may or may not have performed a Google search on the concept of wolves and monogamy. Guess what? They’re more monogamous than humans! Serial Monogamists People. This should have forewarned me. It was not going to end well.
I my review of book two I claimed that I couldn’t bear the idea that Shay or Ren would be rejected. i wanted an alternate ending. I wanted feelings to evolve or change (Think Katniss and Gale). I wanted a new romance or opportunity for one of the boys to pop up (Like, Jake and Renesseme in Twilight). I wanted Calla to strongly feel for one man over the other (Every Love Triangle Ever). In essence I wanted Cremer to continue impressing me in her incarnation of the love triangle. I wanted her to give a valid ending where one man became the better choice. I didn’t want her to take the easy way out. * * * Spoiler Alert * * * What I didn’t want to happen was to see Ren needlessly killed. STILL BELIEVING HE WAS IN THE RUNNING FOR CALLA’S HEART! Heck, I especially didn’t want him to die while CALLA STILL LOVED HIM! Because I honestly believe that had Ren not been killed off – Calla couldn’t have made up her mind. Hello King Solomon’s Judgement. Calla totally would have cut the baby in half. Girlfriend couldn’t choose. Even more frustrating: She was never given the chance.
Cremer had emotionally painted herself into a corner and couldn’t get out without drama and major upset. So she killed him. But Ren doesn’t even get to die a hero. Nope. He makes a stupid move fighting his “father” and dear old dad kills him. End. Of. Story. Dad ends up dying at the hands of Calla’s father. Not even badly injured by his son’s attempt. Ren doesn’t even get to do anything to further the fight!
I’m just left feeling…What a waste…A waste of an opportunity for great writing and an opportunity to do something new to the love triangle.
Rating: 3/5 They fought bravely, but loved like cowards…(less)
Warning: This is the second in a series, so while this post isn’t completely Spoiler-ific, it’s not so innocent either. If you’d...moreLink to Original Review
Warning: This is the second in a series, so while this post isn’t completely Spoiler-ific, it’s not so innocent either. If you’d like an introduction to the series instead check out my post reviewing Book One: Nightshade.
Calla didn’t think beyond running.
Beyond getting away.
Beyond the bloodbath that was to occur on the night of her wedding.
White dress and all Calla led Shay away from his fate and gave him a chance at his destiny. Aided by an unlikely ally – Ren – Shay and Calla were free enough to contemplate escape, until the attack…
Calla wakes up in the Searcher’s lair. She’s cuffed and healing from deadly wounds inflicted by the very people holding her captive. As the questions fly Calla will learn the true history of her people. The real place Shay holds in this war. She’ll have to face new truths and battles she never thought she’d fight. And she’ll have to figure out where her path leads in this world. Because right now she’s a love torn wolf without a pack…
This doesn’t happen often, but I think I liked the second book in this series more than the first. What’s still working for me is the love triangle. Both guys seem like good choices and Calla connects to them in different ways. Shay is the new option, unique, completely her choice, and supportive of Calla choosing her own path. Ren is still very Alpha Male. His kisses are hot and he’s a strong guy but always thinks about Calla’s feelings and opinions – emotionally she just can’t let go of their past or ignore the strong and loving bond they’ve always had.
Really, the only strikes against Ren seem to be that A. he was the Keepers’ choice for her as mate (think: Arranged Marriage) and B. he’s, uh, still with the Keeper/Guardian pack in Denver. I think Calla’s got it right when she says that she likes Shay because she gets to choose him – but admits she never asked herself if perhaps, given a choice, she might have chosen Ren anyway. I have a feeling Cremer is going to make me wait until the VERY END for this love payoff. I only hope that our unchosen hero is either dead or in possession of another woman – ’cause I’d hate to see either one of them jilted.
As all consumed as I am with the Love Triangle, there were a few bumps at the beginning of this book’s road…
The Flashbacks – I think it was listening to the audio version rather than physically reading the book that caused my confusion In the audio version there’s NO TRANSITION or VOICE CHANGE that indicates a flashback. Instead they read as part of the present scene. It was confusing to be in the middle of meeting the Searchers then thrown back to the night Calla and Shay ran away. I couldn’t get my bearings. The Emotional Whiplash – I think Calla even mentions this at some point. But in the early scenes of this book the characters’ emotions vacillate rapidly from teasing-to-hate-to-hope-to-serious-to-funny-to-anger. Seriously, all those emotions happened within one single scene! It’s a lot to take in. Luckily, by the mid-point of the book the emotional dust settles and you’re firmly ensconced in the story of book two (a.k.a. the flashbacks abate). By that point you’ll be so engrossed in the story you’ll have forgotten the confusing start to the tale. Where this title begins to flow well is after Calla joins the Searchers, fully trusting and working with them. Besides Silas (the scribe) I love all the new characters and the light they shed on the current war and the history of their and Calla’s people. The action continues to be amazing (super exciting during my runs!). Though sometimes I feel as though Calla should be a little quicker on the uptake. She always seems to be the last one to put the pieces of this puzzle together.
Random Note: Love Ethan + Sabine – That girl deserves some insta-love!
Rating: 3/5 Withholding judgement till I see how this Love Triangle is going to play out!(less)
This book is one in the vein of The Devil Wears Prada or The Nanny Diaries. Read: smart, cute young thing ends up disillusioned by her first job out o...moreThis book is one in the vein of The Devil Wears Prada or The Nanny Diaries. Read: smart, cute young thing ends up disillusioned by her first job out of college. The general gist of this one is that Alex has dreamed all her life of a job on ‘The Street’ and after stiff competition she lands the job on the bond desk. Enter: the hard-core boss, Chick, and a slew of secondary male characters manning the desk. Of course the job isn’t all the rainbows and butterflies Alex dreamed of. Instead it consists of a vaguely demeaning nickname (Girlie), a seat on a folding chair (you gotta earn your spot on the desk), and a menagerie of absurd tasks (buying and carting home a 50lb wheel of cheese, tracking a co-worker as he eats an entire vending machine). The experience of the job itself is joined (of course) by an unrecommended romance: Alex’s coworker Will. He’s a bedouche. Obvi.
This one didn’t work for me for a few reasons:
Alex Complains. Alex complains A LOT. And I didn’t really agree with her. Yes, She’s expected to do some pretty wacky things. Shit jobs like helping indecisive bankers put together a Powerpoint, create excel spreadsheets till the wee hours of the morning, and being relegated to a folding chair – watching – till she was seasoned enough to earn a spot at the desk. But really, what first job doesn’t contain petty tasks no one else wants to take on? Spending extra time learning software and job specific skills? Heck even the metaphorical ‘folding chair’ where you wait and watch to gain experience? Alex complaining about these ‘injustices’ comes off as spoiled or entitled rather than garnering sympathy from the listener.
2. The ‘boys club’ was really kinda nice.
As far as the other guys on the desk, her boss, and all those pranks? It really felt like fun, older brother stuff – straight from the start. Alex was taken underwing and accepted pretty quickly. Still…Alex complained.
By the time Alex hits the financial breakdown of 2008 – and really has something to complain about – I was done. Obviously Will was a jerk from the start. I just wanted Alex to pick another job. This one hadn’t been her thing from the beginning. I wanted her to see that life was good when it was good. To fight when it got tough. Working on Wall street has never looked so easy. Surely, if your Dad worked there and you’d been prepping all your life for the position you’d be more prepared?!
3. To add insult to injury the ending was rushed and cliché.
Enter: Group of girls sitting ’round a bar indulging in margaritas. They all say various versions of “You’ll do great things”. Our heroine exits to go on a first date with the sweet but bad boy bartender turned chef. Perfect timing. No depth of understanding in the least.
1/5 All I can say for this tale is that it would make a better movie, you’d be done with her in 2.5 hours…plus you’d get popcorn.(less)
**spoiler alert** The whole listen was like Meet the Parents – you know what was going to happen (Ahem – read: go wrong) waaay before the character. W...more**spoiler alert** The whole listen was like Meet the Parents – you know what was going to happen (Ahem – read: go wrong) waaay before the character. What should have been bread crumbs of prep for future twists, turns, and revelations were like bread loaves – scratch that – Big. Chunky. Bread Trucks. Thus making the story frustrating to listen to. Just because the heroine is completely unaware doesn't excuse the fact that – for the reader – the jig is up!
And what was the rushed ending about? Hours of prep, worry, 3 months of pregnancy (if I got the count right) and Paul [Mr. Tuesday] is totally OK with an unplanned pregnancy with Gemma. Seriously, if I went home tonight and announced to Mr. Librarian “Guess what honey I’m pregnant” wait – not just ‘pregnant’ but 3 months pregnant I think he’d flip…And we are in a committed relationship and have discussed having children!
It was just so unrealistic as to be unsatisfying. Where were the issues? The emotional connections and reactions? If the pregnancy is – magically – a happy announcement the 3 months of gestation (during which Paul has known and dated her for half of!) should garner some…I don’t know…Shock?…Hurt?…Misunderstanding?…Anger?…Take your pick. Any emotion besides blithe agreement would have deepened the already slightly wooden character of Paul. All I have to say is that Paul was hotter as Mac and more complex as Mr. Tuesday. And the whole thing was one unsatisfying mess. Definitely could have used more butter.
1/5 For a title that asks for more richness when in doubt, there was no depth in the trials and tribulations of these characters. (less)
This story gave me tingles! Literally chills with hair-standing-on-end. Given the Florida heat that I run in the ability to ‘give me chills’ is the st...moreThis story gave me tingles! Literally chills with hair-standing-on-end. Given the Florida heat that I run in the ability to ‘give me chills’ is the standout feature of this audiobook. The first time the song ’16 Moons’ started playing I had goosebumps! Which brings me to the second feature of experiencing this series as an audio book rather than a physical read…They sing the song to you.
Yes. I said sing.
I’ve always had a hard time with music lyrics in books. I can’t ever figure out a tune. They always end up reading like semi-bad poetry in my head. Then, like in Lord of the Rings or some such book to movie adaptation, when I hear the lyrics sung they affect me so much more. Add layers and richness to a tale or scene. But I’ll be the first to admit I’m not creative enough myself to hear the music in my head. Enter the audio book. Every time the song ’16 Moons’ played I was addicted, I was goose-bumped, I was a little freaked out about what was about to happen to Ethan and Lena. Listening to the song was easily my favorite part of the audio book experience.
However, the plot itself had a few issues. Read no further if you’re not into some light spoilers.
Repeat: Light Spoilers Ahead!
When Ethan and Lena started talking to each other in their minds…I wasn’t exactly on board. It started very close to the beginning of the story and was accepted far too easily. I kept coming back to the easy acceptance of telepathy when Ethan began to have issues with the reality that Lena was a caster (sort of like a witch). The difference in Ethan’s ability to deal with another voice in his head and his capacity to accept a girlfriend who had powers beyond (simple?) telepathy seemed incongruous.
This first book also involved a decent amount of teenage angst. Beautiful Creatures is a little more cliché than the next few in the series (which develop stronger characters). I wish that Ethan and Lena had been given more ‘happy’ moments. The kicker was the Prom. At that point in the story there’s zero hope that Prom will go well for this couple. But even in that scene I wished they had more time before the horror began. A dance maybe? I think Carrie got to eat dinner before the whole bloody bucket scene. In the scope of the series (I’m 3 books in) only Lena seems to keep the angst theme going. So know that if you can get past the beginning of this book the rest of the series will be worth it.
Rating: When I think too hard the story had issues. But the audio during long runs kept me HOOKED! Chills! Loved that. (less)
I’ll admit I watched this book for a bit before picking it up. There was talk of weak world building; about the similarities between the android and c...moreI’ll admit I watched this book for a bit before picking it up. There was talk of weak world building; about the similarities between the android and cyborg conditions. But when I received the audio Cd’s in the mail from fellow blogger Bookgoonie I thought, obviously, this was a sign I was meant to do this book…
And I sooo enjoyed it.
First off, I knew all the twists before they happened. ALL OF THEM.
Second, this in no way hindered me from enjoying this book.
I didn’t see as many issues with the world. I loved the addition of an ancient plague (we’re talking about the genesis for Ring Around the Rosie here people, the dark ages are back!). Is it wrong to say I loved the inclusion of a Pandemic? A relic from Medieval Europe rearing its ugly head. It added a desperation and a seediness to the feel of New Beijing. And it furthered a theme of ancient-meets-futuristic that played throughout the text…Though, you’ll have to suspend belief for a minute that in a society as advanced as New Beijing they have yet to find a cure.
As far as the android vs. cyborg debate. I could tell the difference. And I loved Cinder’s personal android pal Iko. Iko was hilarious! By far my favorite character of the book. She was so sweet, such a good friend to Cinder. I loved that Iko was there to keep Cinder acting like a teenage girl from time to time. And to care for her in ways that the evil step-mother cliché banns the family from doing.
The other side character that I loved was the Doctor. I thought his placement in the plot was a good one. I wasn’t sure in the beginning what direction his character would take. But in the end I thought it was very smart, what Ms. Meyer did. Very interesting indeed. But I’ll let you read it yourself and figure it out.
As far as experiencing the story as an audio book I have to say I loved the character voices that the narrator did. The changes she made to her voice were just right for each character. My favorite was Iko’s voice. Perfect. But the audio itself kept me really interested. The plot was rewarding. I liked that the romance with the prince was spread throughout the story (honestly ‘fist-pumped’ while running a few times due to romantic happenings). Learning about Cinder’s cyborg system and her history was peppered across the story as well…it made me want to run longer just to lean more!
Rating: 4/5 A futuristic version of an ancient tale where eternal themes of society still sing strong. (less)
I looooved this audio book! I have a friend who reads biographies and memoirs like it’s her job. They’re her favorite genre. And when I told her I had...moreI looooved this audio book! I have a friend who reads biographies and memoirs like it’s her job. They’re her favorite genre. And when I told her I had downloaded this book she was a little “Meh”. She hadn’t loved the physical book. Granted she’s a fan of Chelsea Handler and other funny women. So her standard is a bit high.
I’ll agree with my friend in that while I was listening I thought to myself “This wouldn’t be nearly as funny simply reading. I totally would not have read it like that” Fey reads her audio book herself. Which enhances the experience like none other. Fey adds asides to her rendition that could not have made it into the print copy.
Case in point:
The Sarah Palin/Hilary Clinton SNL Episode
Fey had the entire audio of the skit in her audiobook. Almost cried from laughter during my run.
As a side note: Do be aware that if you listen to funny things while running/working out in public you will laugh. And others will stare. You’ll be ok with this situation however, because it’s just so darn funny.
Fey spends quite a bit of time recounting her time as Sarah Palin on SNL as well as the work she’s done building 30 Rock. And while I’m not familiar with her 30 Rock show (never could get into it…) this didn’t hinder my experience enjoying her thoughts on the experience.
Some of my favorite bits from the audio were of her comments on the image of female beauty in our society. As well as the bit about posing on magazine covers and the part when she speaks of elitest breastfeeding mothers. Tears, I promise tears from laughter.
I would suggest this audio book to any woman looking for a good laugh. You’ll see bits of yourself in this funny woman who seems to have happened upon such fame through hard work and a bit of luck.
Rating: 5/5 Feminist and funny Fey will point out all the issues of being a woman in our society and poke fun at them in a way that is utterly accessible. (less)
This made for a good running audiobook as it was action-packed. Lots of fighting, kissing, and hold-your-breath moments. There weren’t many lulls duri...moreThis made for a good running audiobook as it was action-packed. Lots of fighting, kissing, and hold-your-breath moments. There weren’t many lulls during my runs where I was bored – or thinking too much about running in the 80 – 90 degree heat! To put this in perspective my summer runs were about 3-4 miles so about 30 to 40 minutes long. Thus I never went more than 10 to 15 minutes without something interesting happening. This book is a roller-coaster of action!
I always wonder when reading books about wolves (read: people who turn into wolves) why they’re depicted as being so sexual? Maybe it’s the physicality of pack instinct. The strongest, most sexual really do float to the top. Maybe a pack mentality fosters more acute physical awareness? Perhaps it’s displayed in the way my dog Daisy has no problem sniffing every crotch that crosses our threshold – she wants to place you in a hierarchy maybe? Yes. That’s it, we’ll attribute the crotch-sniffing to a higher, analytical thought process. In any event, while the kissing scenes make for great listening, I’m always a bit jarred by the intense sexuality of these characters. Especially as they are so young.
Since we’re on the path of sex we’ll move on to the love triangle. It’s practically the entire point of the book. Which I happen to enjoy/hate in this listen. See, Calla falls fast and hard insta-love style with Shay but her arranged marriage beau, Ren, seems like a pretty good pick too. This had me wondering if both boys were available and no one was forcing Ren on her…might she pick Ren anyway? He’s a great guy and Calla reacts with heat when they kiss and emotional connections when they are hit with rough times. Once the gleam wears off Shay – the ‘not allowed’ appeal – I wonder if Ren will have a fighting chance for her heart? Either way, I have to applaud Cremer for creating a love triangle that’s EQUAL for once. Rarely do you feel like the girl could truly swing either way.
As for the actress’s voice. It’s pretty good. Some of her male voices throw me. And I don’t always agree with her intonation/expressiveness in Calla’s thoughts. Since I haven’t physically read the book I’m not sure if it’s the actress’s fault – or a fault in the writing. Either way I’m being VERY personal here (taste-wise) and VERY nitpicky as well. Over all I’m happy with this choice of series to do in audiobook form. It’s an expensive risk to take both time and money wise when picking an audiobook series and I’m happy with this choice.
Rating: 3/5 Good enough that I’m sticking with the series for the long run (ha. I’m punny )(less)