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Reading Roundup Archives - Page 3 of 17 - Canadian eReader

Category: Reading Roundup

Reading roundup – July 2nd 2016

Good morning.  This week I’ve been really unfocussed in my reading.  I’ve dipped into several books, but not finished that many of them.  It’s been a crazy busy week for me at work, which hasn’t helped.  OK I admit it.  Any free time I’ve had I’ve spent playing Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens rather than reading.  Those games are addictive.

One book I did finish and enjoyed was His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik.  This is the first in the Temeraire series in which the Napoleonic Wars are reimagined with dragons.  I loved the concept, characters and themes.  I especially enjoyed the relationship between Laurence and Temeraire, the dragon.  The ninth and final book in the series, League of Dragons, has just been published.  Much as I enjoyed the series, I’m not certain I want to invest the time to read the rest of the eight, so I cheated and read Tor.com’s Temeraire reread.  I’m hoping this will catch me up sufficiently and I will pick up League of Dragons in audiobook format – narrator is Simon Vance, how could I not go for the audiobook? – as soon as I have a spare Audible credit.  I gave His Majesty’s Dragon four stars out of five

The other book I finished, and it’s more of a novella really at 174 pages, is Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire.  This is set in a residential home for young people who have returned from visiting other magical lands and who need a place to help them readjust to normal life.  I was drawn to the concept and that was very interestingly done, in particular the “mapping” of the various magical realms onto a graph with axes of Nonsense-Logic and Virtue-Wickedness.  The fact that the main protagonist, Nancy, identifies as asexual is also fascinating, and very unusual in a YA novel,  It’s incredible how the removal of any sexual tension completely changes the dynamic of a story.  What I really didn’t enjoy so much was that it turned into a kind of gruesome murder mystery.  I wasn’t expecting that and it did impact my enjoyment of the book.  I gave Every Heart a Doorway three stars out of five.

Other books I dipped into this week were The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye which I’m listening to in audiobook format.  I’m not sure why, but it just hasn’t grabbed my attention so far.  I will persevere with it, however.  I’m not very far in, and I suspect it may just  be a slow starter.

This week I also started one of the books I picked up at BEA, Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige, the start of a new series retelling the story of the Snow Queen by the author of the Dorothy Must Die series.  So far I’m not finding it as easy to get into as Dorothy Must Die, but I remember that series was a slow starter too, so I will keep on with it.  At this point though Snow isn’t as engaging a protagonist for me as Amy Gumm.

It’s certainly a Danielle Paige week for me as the latest novella in her Dorothy Must Die series, The Order of the Wicked, hit my Kindle this past Tuesday.  I am enjoying it so far.  It’s great that the novellas, while not required reading for the series as a whole, do add extra depth and new perspectives to the narrative.

Winds of Winter, the Game of Thrones series 6 finale aired this week and it was a thing of beauty (a few missteps aside.)  That first 20 minute or so setup for Cersei’s trial was exquisite.  Much kudos to director Miguel Sapochnik.  The images of the protagonists preparing for their confrontation in the Sept of Baelor set to Ramin Djawadi’s breathtaking music Light of the Seven was stunning.  I’m listening to it as I write this.  This season has certainly showed some of Djawadi’s best work on the show to date.  I plan to do a full post on the season as a whole so I won’t say too much more now.

Upcoming releases in July

The first release I want to talk about is Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine, the second in the Great Library series.  Ink and Bone was one of my favourite reads of 2015, even if I see I didn’t write a review for it – oops.  The concept and the characters are so fascinating and I can’t wait to read more.  I’ve preordered it on Kindle and will likely pick up the audiobook, too.  Paper and Fire will be released on July 5th.

Also coming out in July is Before the Snow by Danielle Paige, the prequel to Stealing Snow.  Given how Paige’s novellas usually add some great context to the novellas, perhaps I should have waited to start Stealing Snow until I have read this.  Before the Snow is released on July 26th and I have preordered it in Kindle format.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.  This is it, the big one.  The story we never thought we’d get.  This is the sequel to Harry Potter, penned by J.K. herself.  The twist is that it isn’t a novel, but a two-part play, currently in preview in London, and the book that will be published on Harry’s birthday, July 31st, is the rehearsal edition script.  So far everything I’m hearing about this – and I’ve managed to remain spoiler free #KeepTheSecret – is awesome.  I am really looking forward to hearing what happens to the next generation of Hogwarts witches and wizards.  Interestingly enough, at the time of writing the book is not available to preorder in Kindle format, so I’ve gone ahead and ordered it from Kobo.

Speaking of the wizarding world, did you catch the details Rowling released about Ilvermorny, the North American school for the magical community?  I really want a whole novel on Isolt Sayre’s journey!

That’s all for this week – the Force is calling to me to go play the Lego game.

Reading roundup – June 24th 2016

Good morning and welcome to another reading roundup.  And happy St Jean to my fellow Quebecers!

Reading roundup – June 24th 2016Iron to Iron by Ryan Graudin
Series: Wolf by Wolf #0.5
Also in this series: Blood for Blood
Format: eBook
Pages: 104 pages
Genres: Alternate History
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Evelynne's rating: five-stars

This week I read the wonderful Iron to Iron, the prequel novella to Ryan Graudin’s Wolf by Wolf.  Like Wolf by Wolf, it is set in an alternate universe in which the Axis won World War II.  It tells the story of Luka Löwe and Adele Wolfe’s burgeoning romance during the 1955 Axis Tour, a relationship which causes much of the tension in Wolf by Wolf.  Within a couple of pages I was immediately back in the world created by Graudin and back following the Axis Tour.  I listened to Wolf by Wolf in audiobook and although this novella is an ebook only, I still heard it in my mind with Christa Lewis’ voice.  It’s not often that I have such a strong link with narration.  

For those of you who have not yet read Wolf by Wolf (and why not may I ask?) the Axis Tour is a motorcycle race between Berlin and Tokyo, with the winner receiving an Iron Cross and many accolades.  Iron to Iron is told from Luka’s perspective, and we learn more about him.  Both he and Adele are strongly motivated to win the Axis Tour, he to prove his worth to his father by winning a second Iron Cross, she to prove that women are equally as competent as men.  Of course, having read Wolf by Wolf we know the outcome of this race; Graudin does a wonderful job of keeping the tension high despite that knowledge and without the addition of the whole shapeshifter trying to kill Hitler plot of Wolf.

My only gripe about Iron to Iron – and it is very minor – is that fräulein is written with a lower case f.  In German all nouns are capitalised, so this really irritated me.  I gave Iron to Iron a well deserved five stars out of five.  Now when is Blood for Blood out?!?

This week I also started reading His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik.  So far I’m really enjoying it.

Game of Thrones thoughts after the cut

 

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five-stars

Reading roundup – June 18th 2016

Good morning and welcome to another reading roundup.  It’s been  fairly quiet week on the reading front.  I’ve been working to finish Mark Lawrence’s The Wheel of Osheim which I finally did.  Expect a full review next week.  I have also started the audiobook of Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff’s Illuminae.  I picked up the sequel, Gemina, at BEA and want to refresh my memory.  In terms of audiobooks, Illuminae is superb. It is a full, multi-cast performance and is definitely worth listening to.  I have Gemina in hard copy ARC form, but I will certainly be picking up the audiobook if it’s anything like the first in the series.

On non book related news, Apple announced its big updates to iOS and OS X (renamed MacOS.)  There are a couple of updates in particular about which I’m really excited.  First is the integration with VoIP apps (such as Skype) so that they can be handled like normal iPhone calls.  My parents live in Scotland and aren’t very comfortable yet with the internet, so I use Skype to landline to call them most of the time.  Skype has a nice monthly rate for unlimited calls to UK landlines.  It will be so nice to have that integrated and not to have to think about how I call them.

Secondly, Siri is coming to the Mac!  Finally.  I’m not sure yet how I’ll work her into my daily workflow, but I’ll have fun trying.

Commentary and speculation for Game of Thrones below the cut:

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Reading roundup – June 11th 2016

Good morning and first in non reading related news, this week LEGO Dimensions released the trailer for their 2016/2017 expansion packs.  it’s worth checking out that trailer if only to watch MI’s Ethan Hunt rappel down a rope simply to scratch Scooby Doo’s belly or to see Wyldstyle run over Lord Voldemort on a motorcycle.  For those of you unfamiliar with LEGO Dimensions, it’s a toys-to-life video game.  I wrote a whole blog post on it.  The joy of this game is that you can mix and match your fandoms – so, for example, I took great pleasure in having Doctor Who drive the Batmobile through the streets of Minas Tirith.  Now, given that you have to fork out hard cash for new characters in this game, it can be very expensive.  Many of the new packs announced in the trailer are completely uninteresting to me.  A few more (A-Team, Mission Impossible, E.T.) were yeah I’d play this if you gave it to me for free and only two are ones that had me reaching for my wallet.  One of these is the Harry Potter team pack containing Harry and Lord Voldemort.  I have it on good authority – Pottermore – that Harry can expecto a really adorable LEGO Patronus.  As well as the minifigs of Harry and Lord Voldemort, you get the bricks to build a mini Hogwarts Express and the Weasleys’ Ford Anglia. You also gain access to the Harry Potter Adventure World with new puzzles to solve.  I look forward to having Doctor Who check out Hogwarts and Harry explore Middle Earth.  I believe Harry is released to the public on September 27th.

The second pack I will definitely purchase is the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.  I understand this is a story pack which will come with a Newt Scamander minifig, a vehicle and bricks to customise the LEGO Dimensions gateway as well as six new levels of story gameplay and a Fantastic Beasts Adventure World.  I know little more about it than this, but already I’m champing at the bit.  

Game of Thrones this week was a solid, episode if a lot of setup for the chaos to come in the final three episodes of this season.  I especially enjoyed the quiet moments with Ian McShane’s character’s community.

Onto more book-related updates.  This week I did something I don’t very often do.  I marathoned a book series.  I finished the remaining two books in Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle, Blue Lily, Lily Blue and The Raven King.  I will write a full blog post on the series, so I won’t say too much here.  I did very much enjoy them though, especially the wonderful characters and their relationships.

Julian Fellowes’ Belgravia has been hanging around on my currently reading/TBR list for a while now.  This is perhaps not surprising in that it’s being released in serial format with one episode being released each week.  There are currently 10 of 11 episodes available. I’ve subscribed to it in audiobook format so each Thursday a new episode hits my Audible download queue.  It’s being narrated by Juliet Stevenson who is doing an awesome job. While I liked the first episode it took me another two or three to really get into the story of the Trenchards the Bellasis and their myriad connections.  It is very soapy, but enjoyable soap nonetheless.  I have currently listened to five out of the 10 available episodes.  If you enjoyed Downton Abbey, you will likely enjoy Belgravia.  Fellowes has released an app for this where you can download the episodes (they’re also available in Audible as mentioned and other eBook retailers) and it also includes additional background information such as a map of Belgravia and a family tree which is updated as the story progresses.  The only annoying thing for me is because I’m picking up the episodes on Audible, the app doesn’t update for me.  I checked the website and the information given was pretty much too bad, so sad if you want the bonus features but didn’t purchase through the app.  Pity.

The Wheel of Osheim, the final book in Mark Lawrence’s Red Queen’s War is the other book I’m reading this week.  I’m enjoying it, but the problem is I’m listening to it in audiobook as I fall asleep in bed at night and I keep missing chunks!  Should be good, though.

That’s all for this week.  Catch you soon!

Reading roundup – June 3rd 2016

So this last week I finished Claudia Gray’s 1000 Pieces of You which I mentioned adding to my library in my last reading roundup.  Sci-Fi is a genre into which I dip now and again, although I’m not an expert on it.  1000 Pieces of You is a well put together, fun read (well, actually, fun listen as I listened to it primarily in audiobook) – expect a full review on it soon.

I also started Sarah J Maas’ A Court of Mist and Fury, the sequel to A Court of Thorns and Roses.  At first, I admit, I struggled to get into the story.  Slowly though I got sucked into the Feyre/Rhys storyline and am now really enjoying it.  Maas has a very “modern” writing style despite this being epic fantasy.  

I’ve also spent quite a bit of time this week marathoning the first season of 24 on Netflix.  Jack Bauer for the win!  Although it’s been some time since I watched the show, I remembered all the twists and turns, so it wasn’t quite as exciting for me as it was the first time I watched it.

As usual, I watched this week’s episode of Game of Thrones.  I’m going to put a cut here as below are some thoughts and speculations on A Game of Thrones

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Reading roundup – May 26th 2016

Hello and welcome to my reading roundup for this week.  I have read/listened to a couple of books about which I’d like to tell you.

Reading roundup – May 26th 2016Caraval by Stephanie Garber
Series: Caraval #1
Format: ARC
Narrator: Priya Ayyar
Pages: 416 pages
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
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Evelynne's rating: five-stars

The first of these is Caraval by Stephanie Garber.  Now, you won’t find this in the stores yet; it was one of the Advance Reader Copies I picked up at BEA and it won’t come out until January 2017.  I won’t say too much about it – I’ll post a full review nearer the time – but let me say you have a treat in store.  Garber has created a wonderful, whimsical world in Caraval with lots of mysteries, red herrings and weird characters.  I have the feeling that this first book is only starting to scratch the surface of what we will find out about this world.  This is a definite five out of five for me.

Reading roundup – May 26th 2016The Star Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Priya Ayyar
Length: 9 hrs and 22 mins
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
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Evelynne's rating: two-half-stars

I wasn’t nearly so happy with the second book I listened to, which was The Star Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi.  This is a retelling of the Persephone/Hades story and unfortunately, it failed to grab my attention.  I kept falling asleep while listening to the audiobook.  I forced myself to finish it, but it was a struggle.  There is nothing specifically wrong with it that I can point to.  The world is well drawn, the characters are interesting enough and the narration was excellent.  It just didn’t grab me.  Sorry.  I gave it two and a half stars out of five.

In other matters, I can’t not mention the superb episode of Game of Thrones, The Door, which was broadcast this week.  It really hit me in the feels.  I have been leafing through both A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons lately, reading one chapter from each.  That works surprising well, but rereading Martin’s words has really emphasised the show’s weaknesses, especially in terms of character development.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the show. Realistically, though, when the source material has to be compressed into a few hours of television, a lot must be lost. Sunday’s developments, which are confirmed to have come from Martin, were scripted and acted pitch perfectly and Ramin Djawadi’s score really hit it home.  It’s going to be heartbreaking to read in the yet to be published books.

Added to my library this week

Yes, I know I just brought back 30 books from BEA.  I still added two more books to my collection.  I have a problem.

The first of these is A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray. This is a YA sci-fi fantasy series which is billed as Orphan Black meets Cloud Atlas.  Our protagonist, Marguerite. is in possession of an artefact which allows her to leap into her alternate personas in multiple dimensions.  She must use this to track her parents’ murderer.  This definitely sounds intriguing and I am i the mood for something more sci-fi than fantasy right now.  I’ve also read a couple of Gray’s Star Wars novels, which are solid works, so I’m up for this.

Also added to my library is The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye.  This is a YA fantasy set in a Russia-esque world.  The audio sample sounded great, so I picked it up.

Upcoming releases in June

There are two books being released in June about which I”m super excited.

Mark Lawrence releases the finale in his Red Queen’s War series, The Wheel of Osheim.  Now, if The Emperor of Thorns is anything to go by, Lawrence knows how to end a series.  I’m excited to see how he does it.  The Wheel of Osheim comes out on June 7th.  I picked it up on Kindle.

Danielle Paige is releasing another novella in her Dorothy Must Die series called The Order of the Wicked.  While it’s not necessary to have read the novellas to enjoy Paige’s imaginative retelling of the Wizard of Oz, I’ve found they do add a lot of colour and depth to the world.  I’ll certainly be picking up The Order of the Wicked on June 28th when it’s released in ebook only format.

That’s all for today.  Catch up with you soon!

five-stars

Reading roundup – April 29th 2016

Hello and welcome to another reading roundup.  I’ve clearly been on a bit of a social history kick lately – all of the books I’ve read and/or listened to in the last couple of weeks have had social change as a strong theme.  Let me tell you about them.

Reading roundup – April 29th 2016The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson
Also in this series: Julian Fellowes's Belgravia
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Fiona Hardingham
Length: 15 hrs and 47 mins
Genres: Social History
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The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson is a slice-of-life look at an English town in the summer of 1914, just before the First World War.  This conflict had a profound impact on British life, especially in terms of the class system and women’s role in society and so this particular period of time about which Simonson writes is a real turning point.  The author clearly has a strong knowledge of and interest in social history and it comes across very well in the book.

Add to this wonderful, engaging characters (I’m heavily invested in our protagonist Beatrice Nash and young Snout) and this is a great read.  I’m about two thirds of the way through the audiobook and enjoying it very much.  Fiona Hardingham is undertaking narration duties and does an excellent job of distinguishing all the characters.

Reading roundup – April 29th 2016Julian Fellowes' Belgravia by Julian Fellowes
Series: Belgravia
Also in this series: Julian Fellowes's Belgravia
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Juliet Stevenson
Length: Approx 11 hours
Genres: Social History
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible

The second social historical audiobook I’m enjoying is Julian Fellowes’ Belgravia.  Fellowes is, of course, known for the wonderful Downton Abbey television series, which follows the Crawley family through a period of history that saw major social change in the UK.  How accurate it was is a different discussion.  Belgravia is set a few years earlier, on the eve of Waterloo, but again it follows a family through a period of social change.

The interesting thing about Belgravia is that is being published in a serial format.  There are eleven episodes, each one around one hour long, narrated by Juliet Stevenson.  The first four episodes have been published – of which I have listened to one – and the others are following weekly.  Each episode costs around $2.50 with a complete book to be published when the series is complete.  I enjoyed the first episode and intend to keep following it.

Reading roundup – April 29th 2016The Translation of Love by Lynne Katsukake
Format: eBook
Pages: 336 pages
Genres: Social History
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible

The final book I’d like to talk about is The Translation of Love by Lynne Kutsukake.  This is a non-typical choice for me.  It tells the story of Aya, a young second generation Japanese Canadian who along with her father at the end of the Second World War after life in an interment camp is forced to choose between moving east of the Rockies or repatriation to Japan.  (Not a great period in Canada’s history).  She moves to Japan where her path intersects with that of Fumi, a young Japanese girl trying to find her sister and that of Matt Matsumoto, a Japanese American who serves in the office of General MacArthur translating the thousands of letters received by the General from Japanese citizens requesting his aid.

I’m about a third of the way through this and am enjoying it very much.  I am unfamiliar with much of Japanese culture, but Kutsukake is doing an excellent job of describing it through the eyes of Canadian born Aya who, raised in Vancouver, is more Canadian than Japanese in outlook.  I am also very much appreciating the characters and following their story.

Upcoming books in May

There are three books coming out in May about which I am very excited. 

First, we have The Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle, by Rick Riordan.  This is a new series set in his Percy Jackson Greek/Roman world, but this time there is a twist.  His protagonist is the god Apollo himself, who, stripped of his powers by Zeus, must live as a mortal – with Percy and friends’ help of course!  I love Rick Riordan’s writing style, humour and world building so this is a no brainer for me.  I have pre-ordered it in both Kindle and Audible formats.

The Hidden Oracle is released on May 3rd.  

Also on May 3rd we have the release of The Crown, the fifth and final book in Keira Cass’s Selection series.  The Selection has always been my guilty pleasure with its soapy mix of The Bachelor(ette) meets Cinderella meets dystopian YA fiction and again this was another no brainer, especially as the previous book left a real cliffhanger ending.  I pre-ordered The Crown in Kindle format.

The final book about which I am excited, also being released on May 3rd is A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas.  This is the second in the Court of Thorns and Roses series.  Although I prefer Maas’ Throne of Glass series, I did enjoy a Court of Thorns and Roses and expect to enjoy the sequel.  I have pre-ordered A Court of Mist and Fury in Kindle format.

That’s all I have today.  Enjoy your reading and perhaps I’ll meet some of you next month at the Book Expo of America!

Reading roundup – March 30th 2016

yellowbrickwar

Hello and welcome to another reading roundup.  Again, it’s been a month where I’ve really struggled to focus on reading and blogging.  I really should be more ruthless about putting books into my Did Not Finish pile.  I spent too much of the month plodding through books which really weren’t doing anything for me.

Reading roundup – March 30th 2016Yellow Brick War by Danielle Paige
Series: Dorothy Must Die #3
Also in this series: Dorothy Must Die
Format: eBook
Pages: 288 pages
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: three-stars

With regards to Yellow Brick War by Danielle Paige, I’ll be perfectly honest and say that my opinion and rating is heavily influenced by my – mistaken – impression that this was the final book in the Dorothy Must Die series.  This is a series involving an updating and reimagining of the world of L Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz. I had been expecting, and looking forward to, resolution to the plot points introduced in Dorothy Must Die and The Wicked Will Rise.  So coming towards the end of the book when I realised there were no resolutions coming, I felt annoyed and frustrated.  My own fault, I freely admit it.  Had I known there was one more book to come, I could have better appreciated the continued excellent worldbuilding and character development in Yellow Brick War.  I will certainly read the conclusion when it comes out.  I look forward to reading the conclusion of Amy’s story.

I gave Yellow Brick War three stars out of five.

Reading roundup – March 30th 2016A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
Series: Charlotte Holmes #1
Format: eBook
Pages: 336 pages
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: two-stars

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro is one I should probably have consigned to the Did Not Finish pile much sooner than I did.  The concept sounded fascinating.  In Cavallaro’s world Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson were real and their modern day teen descendants Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson meet up at an exclusive boarding school to solve mysteries.  It’s clear that a significant effort was made to reflect the personalities of Holmes and Watson in a modern day setting and to some extent it succeeded.  What completely turned me off this book is that the author introduced sexual tension between Holmes and Watson.  With that partnership it is a meeting of minds, not bodies and I personally lost all interest in the story after that.  That is a personal opinion and your mileage may vary.

A Study in Charlotte rated barely two stars out of five on my scale.

Reading roundup – March 30th 2016The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Cycle #1
Format: eBook
Pages: 468 pages
Genres: Young Adult, Supernatural
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: four-stars

This was my second attempt to read Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys.  The first time I started, I just couldn’t get into it at all.  This second attempt was much more successful.  It’s clear that this is setting up a series.  The book opens with a real bang – Blue is fated to meet and/or kill her one true love within the next year.  I definitely want to read how that plays out.  There were multiple points introduced that I expect will pay off in later books – I would say Stiefvater is an architect rather than a gardener.  I found the characters interesting even if not all of them are immediately likeable – or intended to be so.  The type of supernatural events in this book are ones that to me, personally, are very creepy.  I will have to take a break and read a cutesy contemporary to clear my mind before I start The Dream Thieves!

I gave The Raven Boys four stars out of five.

Reading roundup – March 30th 2016Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs
Series: Mercy Thompson #9
Format: eBook
Pages: 350 pages
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: three-half-stars

Fire Touched is the ninth book in Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series.  I must admit I wasn’t overly excited about reading it.  I like Mercy and the rest of her allies; I just feel after nine books her story has pretty much come to an end.  I’ve felt that way for the last couple of books.  It’s like a long established, high quality TV procedural.  You pretty much know what you are going to get going into it, but you still enjoy it.  I keep saying I’m not going to read any more, yet I still do and still enjoy them.

I gave Fire Touched three and a half stars out of five.

In other news, I’m beginning to get excited about Book Expo of America, BEA, in Chicago in May.  This will be my first time there, so if any of you old hats could give me some tips that would be very much appreciated.

Upcoming releases in April

There are two books coming out in April about which I’m rather excited.  

The first of these is Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire.  This is a young adult fantasy and I was drawn to it by the concept; what happens to young people like Alice or Dorothy when they return home from Wonderland or Oz?  How do they adapt?  Every Heart a Doorway is released on April 5th and I’ve preordered it in Kindle format.

The second is Eligible, the next in the Austen Project series of modern retellings of Jane Austen classics.  Eligible is the adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and is written by Curtis Sittenfeld.  There is a sneak peek of the audiobook available on SoundCloud, which sounds fantastic.  I have preordered the book in audiobook format based on this snippet.  That’s not to say I don’t have my concerns.  The Austen project adaptations have ranged from the bland and uninspired (Emma, Sense and Sensibility) to the very, very good (Northanger Abbey).  Pride and Prejudice is probably the best known – and most adapted – of Austen’s works and Eligible has a lot of work ahead of it to compare to the superb Lizzie Bennet Diaries YouTube series. I am intrigued that Sittenfeld has moved the story to Cincinnati and aged up our protagonists to nearly 40, giving a more modern pressure point for Lizzie and Jane to look for a husband.  It could well work, and from the snippet I am cautiously optimistic.  Eligible is released on April 26th.

Have a good week and will review more books soon. 

three-stars

Reading roundup – all over the place

littledribbling

Gosh, it’s been quite a while since I last posted.  My apologies.  I seem to have been going through not quite a reading slump but a lack of focus in my reading – I’ve been all over the place.  I’ve started so many books and not actually finished them before moving onto another book.  Sigh.

Some of the books that I have managed to finish have been by Brandon Sanderson who published not one, not two but THREE books in the last couple of months.  These are: Bands of Mourning, Mistborn: A Secret History and Calamity.  Bands of Mourning and Mistborn: A Secret History are both set in Sanderson’s Mistborn world, the first being the third in the four book Wax and Wayne series and Secret History a short novella set just after the events of the original trilogy.  While I very much enjoyed Bands of Mourning – the pacing, characters and plot were all wonderful, and an incredible ending – I was less happy with Secret History.  For those of you unaware, all of Sanderson’s adult novels are set in the same world, which he calls the cosmere.  In other words, Mistborn, Warbreaker and the Stormlight Archives are all happening in the same universe.  At this point in the Mistborn story the worlds are beginning to collide and I’m not 100% sure how I feel about that.  I gave Bands of Mourning five stars out of five and Secret History four.

The final Sanderson book I read was Calamity, the final book in the Reckoners trilogy.  I had high expectations of this one as one thing Sanderson does very very well is end a series.  His endings to the Mistborn trilogy and his work on ending Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time have been among the most memorable for me.  I must admit Calamity didn’t quite live up to expectations, although that was more of a personal choice for me; I just didn’t enjoy where Sanderson took the story and characters as much as I’d hoped.  I gave Calamity four stars out of five.

Reading roundup – all over the placeThe Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Nathan Osgood
Length: 14 hrs and 4 mins
Genres: Travelogue
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Evelynne's rating: five-stars

One book I did very much enjoy this month was Bill Bryson’s The Road to Little Dribbling.  This is a travelogue in which Bryson takes a trip around the UK.  Bryson is an American married to a Brit who lived in the UK for many years.  It’s always refreshing to see one’s home country from a foreigner’s perspective and this is no exception. This is one to enjoy in audiobook format.  The style of the book is as if Bryson were sitting down over a cup of tea with the reader talking about his travels, which makes this an excellent choice for listening and Nathan Osgood does a great job as narrator.  Each chapter is introduced by some music typifying the region which adds a little something to the experience, too.  Be warned though.  The audiobook includes a song “The Bryson Line” written and performed by Richard Digance which is a real ohrwurm.  I couldn’t get it out of my head for weeks. I gave The Road to Little Dribbling five stars out of five.

Reading roundup – all over the placeUprooted by Naomi Novik
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Julia Emelin
Length: 17 hrs and 43 mins
Genres: Epic Fantasy
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Evelynne's rating: four-stars

Uprooted by Naomi Novik is a book I listened to this month which very nearly went into my did not finish pile.  This is a stand alone epic fantasy about a young woman who is chosen against all odds to serve the local magician as he works to contain the evil Wood.  Novik has created a wonderful, magical world, and the characters are interesting.  However the pacing and buildup is very, very slow.  For quite some time I kept saying to myself, OK one more chapter and if I still amn’t hooked, I’ll leave it.  Eventually I realised I was finally becoming invested in the story and characters and was happy to finish the book.  I did very much enjoy the audio performance of Julia Emelin.  The book is worth persevering with and I gave Uprooted four stars out of five.

Reading roundup – all over the placeThe Diary of River Song by Big Finish Productions
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Various
Length: 2 hours
Evelynne's rating: five-stars

This is a production I’ve had on my radar for a while.  As I’ve mentioned, the relationship between River Song and The Doctor is one of my favourite fictional relationships and I was intrigued to see how she would pair up with the Eighth Doctor.  Big Finish has long been known for Doctor Who audio productions – indeed most of the Eighth Doctor’s adventures take place in this medium – and their production quality is absolutely stellar.  For this particular adventure they hired Alex Kingston and Paul McGann to play River and The Doctor and both really get their characters.  I must confess to a slight disappointment that River did not reveal her true identity to Eight; but then again that would have broken the internal logic of the TV show.  All in all these productions are wonderful and if you like Doctor Who you really should check them out.  I gave The Diary of River Song five stars out of five.

And now onto books I started but did not finish this month.  The first of these was White Queen by Philippa Gregory.  At first, I found myself being really sucked into this story – it is written in a very engaging manner.  However, historical dramas is not my usual genre and I found myself leaving it aside for my more usual fare.  I imagine I will return to White Queen at some point in the future.

Next up was The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey.  I really loved the narrator and her sassy attitude in the face of alien invasion.  However, I read the rest of the synopsis on Wikipedia and decided I really wasn’t interested in where the story was going.  

I started listening to Star Wars Darth Plagueis at the gym, but the story never really grabbed me.  I had been hoping for some insight into the world of the Sith and maybe I didn’t give it long enough, but the first few chapters really didn’t grab my interest at all.ianna

Having watched a couple of episodes of Outlander, I dived in once again to the fourth book, Drums of Autumn.  These are real doorstops of books and much as I love the characters and story, I find I cannot read them all at once.  I read a few chapters, wait a few months, then go back in again.  I did enjoy the chapters I read which focussed more on Brianna’s and Roger’s adventures.  

So there you have it – my update for the last month.  Hopefully in March I will be more focussed.  We do have Cassandra Clare’s latest Shadowhunter series starter Lady Midnight being released as well as the conclusion to Danielle Paige’s modern adaptation of the world of Oz, The Yellow Brick War.  I’m hoping they will keep me out of trouble!

five-stars

Reading catchup part 3 – December 5th 2015

The final part of my reading catchup series in which I discuss Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, Winter by Marissa Meyer and Soundless by Richelle Mead.

Reading catchup part 3 – December 5th 2015Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Also in this series: Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Fairest - Levana's Story
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Various
Length: 15 hrs and 25 mins
Genres: Epic Fantasy
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Evelynne's rating: four-stars

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo is a new series set in the same world as her Grisha Trilogy, which I loved.  One of Bardugo’s strengths as a writer is her worldbuilding – and that continues in this new outing.  Instead of a Russianesque setting, the action moves to a place reminiscent of Amsterdam in its Golden Age.  The characters were interesting, but in an ensemble book like this, they aren’t always given the time to be as fully developed as a single protagonist novel.  I look forward to seeing where the series goes and will certainly keep up with it.

I gave Six of Crows four stars out of five.

Reading catchup part 3 – December 5th 2015Winter by Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #4
Also in this series: Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Fairest - Levana's Story
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Rebecca Soler
Length: 23 hrs and 30 mins
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy, Young Adult
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Evelynne's rating: five-stars

Winter by Marissa Meyer is the fourth and final book in the Lunar Chronicles series and was one of my most anticipated reads of the year.  This final book was loosely based on the Snow White fairytale and tells the story of Princess Winter of Luna as well as continuing the stories of Cinder, Scarlet and Cress and their attempt to overthrow the evil Queen Levana.  I must admit I was ever so slightly disappointed in Winter – perhaps my expectations were a little too high.  Meyer had done her setup so well in the previous books, so at times it felt as if I was just watching things play out as expected.  On the other hand, this being the last book in the series did mean that all bets were off and I was concerned for our protagonists’ survival at various points.  Once again though I did love the fairytale mashup – the way in which Meyer has adapted the various fairytale tropes – like Snow White’s glass coffin into a sci-fi setting is brilliant.  Our heroines continue to be kick-ass and I did enjoy how it all came together.

I gave Winter five stars out of five, mainly for my love of the series as a whole.

Reading catchup part 3 – December 5th 2015Soundless by Richelle Mead
Format: eBook
Pages: 272 pages
Genres: Fantasy
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Evelynne's rating: three-half-stars

I admit I’d been initially reluctant to pick up Soundless by Richelle Mead, despite my love of her Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series.  This is because some of the reviews I’d read were mixed at best. I had originally been intrigued by the concept of a deaf girl living in a soundless world begins to hear again and embarks on an adventure to save her community.  

As an exploration into discovering a sense of which your community has no concept, the book is wonderful.  I just loved the way in which Fei comes to terms with her new hearing.  The way in which she struggled to conceptualise the new experience was beautifully written.  I’d have liked to have read more of this.

However the whole community rescue plotline is not developed to nearly the same extent.  The book is very short – well under three hundred pages – and this is the aspect which suffered the most.  The book could have done to have been twice as long.

I gave Soundless three and a half stars out of five.

In other news, I am particularly excited this week as my husband and I have booked our tickets for Chicago in May 2016 to attend BEA, the Book Expo of America.  Yay!  This will be my first time attending and I’m so looking forward to it – I’ve heard BEA described as Disneyland for book nerds. If any of you have been before and have tips, please let me know in the comments.

four-stars
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