Monday, June 17, 2019

Audiobook review: I'll Give you the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: 9/16/14
Narrator: Julia Whelan, Jesse Bernstein
Length: 12 hrs. 57 min.
Source: Sync Audiobook

Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways... until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah’s story to tell. The later years are Jude’s. What the twins don’t realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world. 
This radiant novel from the acclaimed, award-winning author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once.
My thoughts:

I have been wanting to read this for quite a while and I had gotten the audiobook from Sync a couple of years ago but never tried it. I'm sorry I waited. Like so many, I found myself engrossed in what happened to the two twins and everyone who surrounds them.

I did take 1/2 a star off for the beginning. It was slow and I wasn't sure I really wanted to get into it, but by the time I hit Jude's part I was getting invested and shortly thereafter I was all in.

The book also deals with grief and I think that is one of the reasons I put it off. However, I really liked how they dealt with the heartbreak. It was sad, however it wasn't devastating even if the characters thought they would never heal and be broken forever. Although grief is the journey both kids make there is a HEA which might be a bit too easy as pieces fall into place. However, at the same time, I appreciated how easily it all fell together. In this way you felt good after the book ended and uplifted.

I also love how you are immersed in the way both kids saw the world. Full of metaphor and art. It was a way of understanding or controlling everything they experienced. The thoughts and feelings became art as well as the art they produced. All of it became catalysts in their healing.

I enjoyed the audio and did like the split between the two narrators. I think their accents were consistent and it really separated the voices between the twins.

I give the book 4 1/2 stars. After a slow start this is a great book full of metaphor, art and above all healing the heart. I highly recommend he book and I need to try the author's other work.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Audiobook Review: Hunted by Kevin Hearne

Series: The Iron Druid Chronicles #6
Published: 6/25/13
Publisher: Random House Audio
Narrator: Luke Daniels
Length: 9 hrs. 52 min.
Source: Library

For a two-thousand-year-old Druid, Atticus O’Sullivan is a pretty fast runner. Good thing, because he’s being chased by not one but two goddesses of the hunt—Artemis and Diana—for messing with one of their own. Dodging their slings and arrows, Atticus, Granuaile, and his wolfhound Oberon are making a mad dash across modern-day Europe to seek help from a friend of the Tuatha DΓ© Danann. His usual magical option of shifting planes is blocked, so instead of playing hide-and-seek, the game plan is . . . run like hell. 
Crashing the pantheon marathon is the Norse god Loki. Killing Atticus is the only loose end he needs to tie up before unleashing Ragnarok—AKA the Apocalypse. Atticus and Granuaile have to outfox the Olympians and contain the god of mischief if they want to go on living—and still have a world to live in.
My thoughts:

If you haven't tried these books on audiobook, I do suggest you try at least one. I do love Luke Daniel's narration of this series and he is the voice of Atticus in my head. His rendition of Oberon is always spot on and is capable of making me laugh. Like most male narrators, it takes me a while to get used to his female voices but it didn't take me long (like usual) to just fall into the flow and it didn't bother me at all in a few minutes.

The humor of his stories was back in this one and I loved learning about his version of mythology. There was a huge twist that I didn't expect and while I knew what the outcome would have to be, I just didn't know how it would be solved.

The romance in the book was still on the back burner but definitely there. It was cute and there was also a possible partner for Atticus that did surprise but not really at the same time. Atticus, like a lot of males, was clueless until it was too late. It really did make it interesting to see his emotions about this event (which I will evilly not tell... bwa haha).

I give this book 4 stars. My biggest niggle about the book is how it ended. It didn't quite feel like a solid end to me but it wasn't really a cliffie, it just felt unfinished and abrupt although others might tell you otherwise. It just felt that way to me. I will continue the series as I'm curious as to what else Atticus, Granuaile and Oberon have in store for us all next.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Audiobook Review: Tempest Rising by Nicole Peeler

Series: Jane True #1
Publisher: Brilliance audio
Published: 11/20/10
Narrator: Kate Reinders
Length: 9 hrs. 47 min.
Source: Owned

During her nightly, clandestine swim in the freezing winter ocean, a grisly find leads Jane to startling revelations about her heritage: she is only half-human. 
Now, Jane must enter a world filled with supernatural creatures that are terrifying, beautiful, and deadly all of which perfectly describe her new friend, Ryu, a gorgeous and powerful vampire. 
It is a world where nothing can be taken for granted: a dog can heal with a lick; spirits bag your groceries; and whatever you do, never ever rub the genie s lamp.
My thoughts:

I have had this one for a while now but never got into it. I have been wanting to bring down my tbr and I was glad I had. I love a good mermaid tale and while she was a selkie (close enough) it still ended up being a fun PNR/UF romp.

While I did really like Jane, sometimes I felt she might have been too naive for what she is going through but I also know that in a UF the protagonist who is clueless at first really has some growing to do and as long as that happens I don't mind in the least. I really do like this author so I have no worries on that front. I think the biggest problem I had with the book is that I didn't have access to the next right away to see if that growth starts to occur at even a faster rate. Interlibrary loan here I come! LOL

The romance was cute and hot but I am still uncertain about Ryu. I think he is a good guy and I hope that I am right. Right now I'm rooting for another but I'm happy to take him if Jane doesn't want him. ;)

I give this book 3 1/2 stars. I reall loved Kate's narration and she voiced all the characters well. I hope she does the rest of the series as I do think I want to audiobook the whole series.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Audiobook Review: The Others #3, #4

Vision in Silver
Series: The Others #3
Narrator: Alexandra Harris
16 hrs.
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Published: March 3, 2015
Source: Library
Speed Listened: 1.5

The Others freed the cassandra sangue to protect the blood prophets from exploitation, not realizing their actions would have dire consequences. Now the fragile seers are in greater danger than ever before—both from their own weaknesses and from those who seek to control their divinations for wicked purposes. In desperate need of answers, Simon Wolfgard, a shape-shifter leader among the Others, has no choice but to enlist blood prophet Meg Corbyn’s help, regardless of the risks she faces by aiding him. 
Meg is still deep in the throes of her addiction to the euphoria she feels when she cuts and speaks prophecy. She knows each slice of her blade tempts death. But Others and humans alike need answers, and her visions may be Simon’s only hope of ending the conflict. 
For the shadows of war are deepening across the Atlantik, and the prejudice of a fanatic faction is threatening to bring the battle right to Meg and Simon’s doorstep…

My thoughts:

A series I love and needed to catch up on... and if you haven't tried it yet, you really need to start. I do recommend audio as I have loved the whole series so far on audio. Alexandra Harris does an excellent job and voices all the characters well.

This series has captivated me and the world building is spectacular and a bit familiar. The political aspect is very relevant to what is happening today. It really got me thinking about what challenges we are facing due to human devastation. Of course, in this world, there is a consequence that even the Others fear. We start to get a hint what can come if things don't start to change.

The relationships in the book are as good as the previous series and I love how everyone in the courtyard knows how Simon and Meg feel about each other even if they haven't realized it yet.

Just read the series, but do start with book 1. This is a series that needs to be read in order.

Marked in Flesh
Series: The Others #4
Narrator: Alexandra Harris
15 hrs. 21 min.
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Published: March 6, 2016
Source: Library
Speed Listened: 1.5

Since the Others allied themselves with the cassandra sangue, the fragile yet powerful human blood prophets who were being exploited by their own kind, the delicate dynamic between humans and Others changed. Some, like Simon Wolfgard, wolf shifter and leader of the Lakeside Courtyard, and blood prophet Meg Corbyn, see the new, closer companionship as beneficial—both personally and practically.

But not everyone is convinced. A group of radical humans is seeking to usurp land through a series of violent attacks on the Others. What they don’t realize is that there are older and more dangerous forces than shifters and vampires protecting the land that belongs to the Others—and those forces are willing to do whatever is necessary to protect what is theirs…
My thoughts:

I had to immediately start the next book as I really enjoyed my time in this world. Events that accumulated in the last book ramp up in this one and there is a conclusion to what everyone feared. However, this is not the end of the series and many questions as to the consequences of what happened will have to be explored. I also love how Meg has grown and how she is desperately trying to find a way to help all of the cassandra sangue. I also love how we get even more glimpses into other humans who aren't hell-bent on destroying everything in their path. This is another great addition to the series. You will also love the end of this one if you are wanting more romance... just sayin'...

My biggest complaint? The library didn't have the next one on audio! :'( I guess interlibrary loan will be the next thing I do as I want to finish the series on audio!


Monday, May 20, 2019

Spark by Sarah Beth Durst

Publisher: Clarion
Published: 5/14/19
320 p.
Source: From author for review

When a shy girl and her dragon-like companion discover their country’s idyllic weather comes at a steep—and secret—cost, they recruit fellow students to defy authority and attempt to spread the truth. 
Storm beasts and their guardians create perfect weather every day, and Mina longs for a storm beast of her own. But when the gentle girl bonds with a lightning beast—a creature of fire and chaos—everyone’s certain it’s a mistake. Everyone but Mina and the beast himself, Pixit. Quickly enrolled in lightning school, Mina struggles to master a guardian’s skills, and she discovers that her country's weather comes at a devastating cost—a cost powerful people wish to hide. Mina’s never been the type to speak out, but someone has to tell the truth, and, with Pixit’s help, she resolves to find a way to be heard.
My thoughts:

This was a cute MG book that can be enjoyed by all ages. I think this would also be a great book to read to the smaller kids as there is nothing in it that is too mature. The protagonist, Mina, is a shy girl who finds the strength within to right a wrong she finds within her world. She also does not seek fame but is content to let others shine as be a part of the heroic acts. Her humbleness really makes her even more of a hero and also shows that even the smallest voice can find her (or his) way into making a great impact.

If you need another reason to read or share the book, it is also a fun fantasy with dragons as besties! Would that be a beastie bestie? LOL Seriously the dragons also have great personalities and aren't pets but neither are they the heros of the story. They are a great sidekick who can encourage when needed and are just big scaly lovebugs.

I give this book 4 1/2 stars and really do recommend it to everyone who loves a cute story with a girl who finds her own strength. I also love that it has consequences of convenience and teaches that even if you don't suffer the consequences, you still are responsible for them.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Audiobook Review: Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

Published: April 3, 18
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Narrator: Amy Melissa Bentley
Length: 11 hrs. 23 min.
Source: Hoopla/Library

Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best friends-turned-best enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern day, Californian version of the Montagues and Capulets. 
But when a group camping trip goes south, Zorie and Lennon find themselves stranded in the wilderness. Alone. Together.
What could go wrong? 
With no one but each other for company, Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to hash out their issues via witty jabs and insults as they try to make their way to safety. But fighting each other while also fighting off the forces of nature makes getting out of the woods in one piece less and less likely. 
And as the two travel deeper into Northern California’s rugged backcountry, secrets and hidden feelings surface. But can Zorie and Lennon’s rekindled connection survive out in the real world? Or was it just a result of the fresh forest air and the magic of the twinkling stars?
My thoughts:

I have to admit that by now I think I will read or listen to anything Jenn Bennett writes. Another good YA romance book and I am smitten with the characters. It also has some excellent (and one not so excellent... but that was intentional) secondary characters. I especially love her adopted grandparents and her mom (oh the way they are all together!). Also, I have to note that the cast was eclectic and that made me love this book even more.

It also has everything you want in a YA. It does have sex in the book, but it is handled well and is geared toward older YA. It also has bad decisions and miscommunication as you often expect in a friends to hate to love romance, but it is handled well. The drama is well placed and makes sense. It enhances the book and gives them reason to know each other again. This is a contemporary romance you should try if you haven't already.

The narrator is now my voice for Bennett's YA. I hope she does more books as the author writes them. I wouldn't hesitate to pick another with her narration.

I give this book 4 1/2 stars. If you shy away from YA contemporary romance, give this one a try. It is as well written as her other works and this author has a solid fan in me.


Thursday, May 9, 2019

Audiobook Review: Alex Approximately by Jenn Bennett

Published: 8/15/17
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Narrator: Amy Melissa Bentley
Length: 9 hrs. 58 min.
Source: Hoopla/Library

Classic movie buff Bailey "Mink" Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online by "Alex." Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush. 
Faced with doubts (what if he's a creep in real life-or worse?), Bailey doesn't tell Alex she's moved to his hometown. Or that she's landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she's being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth-a.k.a. her new arch-nemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever-it-is she's starting to feel for Porter... 
And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex . . . Approximately.
My thoughts:

This is a YA romantic comedy and a retelling of "You've Got Mail" which is perfect for these two movie buffs. This one had me completely engaged and invested in this romance. I really enjoyed the characters and how they move from hate to sorta friends to love. This was simply a fun ride and a great audiobook. Amy did a great job narrating the story and even though I did listen at 1.5 speed I enjoyed her voice and expressions.

My only real issue was a hint of a possible "bad guy" that never amounted to much. This was supposed to affect her and give her some slight PTSD but it was pretty much dropped and I found that disappointing. I also though there would be more about her anxiety but it was solved rather abruptly. However, these actually ended up being minor niggles and I didn't want the story to end.

I give this book 4 stars. If you are looking for a good romantic summer read, then this one might be a good fun read while at the beach (can I come too? LOL)


Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Magpie's Song by Allison Pang

Series: The IronHeart Chronicles #1
Publisher: Author published
Published: Aug. 8, 18
Source: From author (won book)

In the slums of BrightStone, Moon Children are worth less than the scrap they must collect to survive. It doesn’t matter that these abandoned half-breeds are part-Meridian with their ancestors hailing from the technologically advanced city that floats above the once-thriving, now plague-ridden BrightStone. Instead they are rejected by both their ancestral societies and forced to live on the outskirts of civilization, joining clans simply to survive. Not to mention their role as Tithe, leading the city’s infected citizens deep into the Pits where their disease can be controlled.

Nineteen-year-old Raggy Maggy is no different, despite the mysterious heart-shaped panel that covers her chest. Or at least she wasn’t… Not until her chance discovery of a Meridian-built clockwork dragon—and its murdered owner. When the Inquestors policing the city find Maggy at the scene of the crime, she quickly turns into their prime suspect. Now she’s all anyone can talk about. Even her clan leader turns his back on her, leading her to rely on an exiled doctor and a clanless Moon Child named Ghost to keep her hidden. In return, all she has to do is help them find a cure for the plague they believe was not exactly accidental. Yet doing so might mean risking more than just her life. It also might be the only key to uncovering the truth about the parents—and the past—she knows nothing about.

My thoughts:

This is an author who also wrote the Abby Sinclair series (oh if you haven't read it... go do it now! Seriously, we will wait...) so I was very happy when I won my copy. This is quite different than her other series. This one is is YA (older) and a bit steampunk-ish (not too heavy on it) with a mystery to by solved. It also is dark with a dystopian feel. It isn't dystopian since it happens in a much different world than ours, but you know something happened to separate the rich from the rest of the rabble. It also created a plague which cannot be cured and children who are immune to the plague and are marked by their snow white hair. Rejected and feared, the children barely survive in thieving clans and used as caretakers to those infected and doomed to die in the tunnels.

Okay, I don't want to give away any more as it also has a mystery feel to the story and it is always good to slowly have things revealed. The worldbuilding is easy to slip into and you want to know everything and you become more invested as the story reveals bits of this world. The world isn't bright and shiny, but as I have already stated, it is dark, it is dirty, and dangerous. I also wouldn't worry with the YA title as it has murder, betrayal and even casual sex (nothing graphic, but just states it as fact). It also has some incredible gadgets that I hope the author explores more in future books.

My biggest complaint? It isn't long enough. You know where the book was going and it took it's time to get there (which isn't a bad thing here) and when it gets there it ends. It isn't a cliffie but you need the next book to find out what how and more about this world.

I give this book 4 stars. I think anyone wanting a fantasy world which isn't heavy handed but engaging should try this book. Also, don't forget to try her other series. You won't regret either series.


Monday, April 8, 2019

The Deepest Blue by Sarah Beth Durst

Series: Tales of Renthia #1
368 p.
Published: March 19, 19
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Source: From author for review

... dazzling, intricate stand-alone fantasy novel set in award-winning author Sarah Beth Durst’s beloved world of Renthia. 
Life is precious and precarious on the islands of Belene. Besieged by a capricious ocean full of malicious spirits, the people of the islands seek joy where they can. Mayara, one of the island’s fearless oyster divers, has found happiness in love. But on the day of her wedding to the artist Kelo, a spirit-driven storm hits the island with deadly force.
To save her loved ones, Mayara reveals a dangerous secret: she has the power to control the spirits. When the storm ends, she is taken into custody by the queen’s soldiers and imprisoned with other women like her. 
They vary in age and social status, but to many they are heroes who will aide the country or witches that will sacrifice themselves trying. No matter who they are, the women are sent to a terrifying place—an island filled with bloodthirsty nature spirits, and left without food, water, shelter, or any tools except their own instincts and magic. Whoever survives the Island of Testing will be declared heirs to the queen. But no matter if she wins or loses, Mayara knows that the life she dreamed of is gone.
My thoughts:

This is a book set in the world of Sarah Beth Durst's trilogy, The Queens of Renthia (goodreads link). I really loved that series and I do suggest that you read it before reading this one. The main reason is that the trilogy establishes the world in an engaging way. This book is a standalone from that world and it follows the sea and the "monsters" that dwell there. This series is also considered fantasy, but it is an accessible one and you shouldn't be afraid to jump in.

You get to know the main character Mayara and her beloved Kelo. Secondary characters are also well rounded out and a favorite sassy character from the previous books also makes an appearance. You have a few twists and even political intrigue which were all solved and some not in the way you would suspect. I also love that you even get a glimpse at some of the more evolved spirit's mind. That actually made me want more of that perspective. Even so, I would say that the glimpse actually works best within the story as a whole.

There is adventure, romance, heartbreak and betrayal within this story. Secrets and intrigue also adorn the pages. The whole series is a well rounded out world that I'm not sure I would want to live, but I do enjoy visiting. I also hope that we get to visit every corner of this world.

If you have not read this author's writing, I highly recommend that you at least try one of her books. She has several out there that are standalones. If you are hungry for a short series, do try the first book in the Queens of Renthia, The Queen of Blood.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Sweet Baby Boy

I know this is a holiday pic, but it really does capture my boy. He was a sweetheart and always wanted to be kissed or just give kisses. And yea... he loved the ladies. 

I have been absent but if you haven't guessed why, I did lose my boy not too long after announcing he had kidney failure. We found out why. He had osteosarcoma. He must have been hiding more pain than I realized and it took him quickly. He died in my arms with the help of his thoughtful vet (he helped me at home so I didn't have to transport him to have it done). I still have tears in my eyes writing this and I miss him terribly. Monster pup also looked a bit lost without him.

While this went on I had two more losses in my family. So, obviously I needed a break. 

I will have a few reviews to post and I also wanted to upkeep the craft posts. 

I did have some good things happen as well. Monster pup has a new sister. Found her through a rescue group. It happened a bit sooner than I expected, but I really needed something positive. She did help with the grief.
She was pregnant and in a high kill shelter. She was picked up by the rescue and she traveled to my state. She lost half her babies and I think (by the vet reports I got) was probably neglected. She was pretty shut down when I got her but with monster pup's help she has blossomed and has assumed he role as princess of the house. I guess I'll dub her princess legs. LOL She is a dog my boy would have approved and my mom is convinced he sent her our way.