Warning: Illegal offset type in /home/content/99/11102399/html/wp-includes/class-wp-widget-factory.php on line 57
Reading Roundup Archives - Page 4 of 17 - Canadian eReader

Category: Reading Roundup

Reading catchup part 2 – November 19 2015

And here we go for the second part of my reading catchup in which I discuss Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson, Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff and Carry On by Rainbow Rowell.

Reading catchup part 2 – November 19 2015Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson
Series: Mistborn #5
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Michael Kramer
Length: 12 hrs and 42 mins
Genres: Epic Fantasy
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: three-stars

Shadows of Self is the second in Sanderson’s Wax and Wayne series (or the fifth Mistborn, however you like to look at it) and is set in the same world as the Mistborn trilogy only several hundred years later at a point in which the society is on the cusp of becoming industrialised.   It has a deliberate steampunk feel to it.  Sanderson is known as a master of worldbuilding, plot, pacing and magic systems and that is certainly borne out in Shadows of Self.  The plot is imaginative, the pacing excellent and the magic system/worldbuilding outstanding as always.  However, the more (recent) books of his I read, the more I realise I’m not very fond of his writing style.  For me, personally, the informal style does not match the setting.  It could be this is a deliberate choice by the writer – I know from his work on The Wheel of Time and The Stormlight Archive that he can use a more formal style when necessary – in which case I have to disagree with his choice for these recent books.

Alternatively, it could be that he’s under pressure to crank out too many books – he’s a massively prolific writer – and perhaps each book is not receiving the full care and attention to detail it needs.

Because of this, I gave Shadows of Self three stars out of five.

Reading catchup part 2 – November 19 2015Illuminae by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
Series: The Illuminae Files #1
Format: eBook
Pages: 608 pages
Genres: Sci-Fi, Young Adult
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: four-half-stars

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff is a young adult adventure story imaginatively told through a collection of documents.  We follow Kady and Ezra as they are forced to flee their planet after it is invaded.

Now, I’m going to say something I don’t often say;  PLEASE don’t buy this book in ebook format.  Pick up the hard copy instead.  Because formatting is an intrinsic part of the story, the ebook is often scanned images rather than text.  This means that you lose all the advantages of using an ereader – font size adjustment, searching for example.  More worryingly, when I tried to read it on my iPad, a significant number of these images were missing, meaning I lost a whole chunk of the story.  I only noticed this because I was following along with the audiobook at the same time.  The images were present in the Kindle, but I found the text very small and sometimes difficult to read.  So do your eyes a favour and skip the ebook in favour of the hardback.

In an ideal world, you would experience this book in both hard copy and audiobook format.  The audiobook is narrated by a full voice cast and is absolutely wonderful.  I highly recommend it.  However, by listening to the audiobook alone you miss out on the formatting of the book which also adds an extra dimension.

Although the unusual format is one of the key attractions of this book, the story itself more than holds its own – I was enthralled by Kady and Ezra’s dilemma, and the ending is fantastic. It really made me anxious to read the next book.   

The only other comment I would make is that some of the attempts to create tension fail because of the structure.  We know from the “briefing notes” that the collection of documents that make up the book were put together after the fact.  This makes things like the countdown til various events rather pointless.

I gave Illuminae four stars out of five.  

Reading catchup part 2 – November 19 2015Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Euan Morton
Length: 13 hrs and 42 mins
Genres: Cutesy romance, Contemporary Fantasy
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: five-stars

From time to time a book will come along in which plot, character, pacing, worldbuilding and writing come together to create something wonderful.  For me that book was Carry On by Rainbow Rowell.  Carry On is a follow up to Rowell’s Fangirl – Carry On is the final book in the series about which our fangirl protagonist is obsessed.  I should point out that it’s not necessary to have read Fangirl before reading Carry On.

I will admit that initially I wasn’t too interested in reading Carry On.  Fangirl was one of the few Rainbow Rowell books I did not finish. However some glowing reviews encouraged me to reconsider and I’m very glad I did.

Carry On follows the final school year of Simon Snow, a Harry Potteresque Chosen One, destined to save the magical world from the Insidious Humdrum.  As well as the impending confrontation with the Humdrum, Simon must also deal with his growing feelings for his vampire roommate Baz.  The book is a perfect blend of humour, romance adventure and wonderful character moments and I highly recommend it.

I gave Carry On a resounding five stars out of five.

More mini reviews later!

three-stars

Reading catchup part 1 – November 18th 2015

First of all, my apologies for not having posted much in the last few weeks – I’ve been too busy reading to write about reading.  As I have mentioned in previous posts, in the months of October and November there were a shedload of new releases about which I was very excited.  I’ve only just now caught up with all of the new books in my life.  Some of the reviews will be quite brief as it’s been quite a while and several books ago that I read them It will take a couple of posts to go through them all so let’s get started.

Reading catchup part 1 – November 18th 2015The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow
Series: Prisoners of Peace #1
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Madeleine Maby
Length: 10 hrs and 21 mins
Genres: Sci-Fi, Young Adult
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: four-stars

The Scorpion Rules is the first in Erin Bow’s Children of Peace YA series.  In Bow’s world, peace is maintained by an AI named Talis who forces each country’s leaders to provide a child or grandchild as a Child of Peace – if the country enters a war, the hostage is killed.  The book centres around a young princess named Greta, whose orderly world as a hostage is shaken by the arrival of a new Child of Peace, Elian.  Elian is new to the hostage system and struggles to adapt.  Things escalate when Greta’s and Elian’s countries declare war.

I really loved the concept and worldbuilding in this book.  I found the idea of the Children of Peace to be intriguing and well written.  Unfortunately, I didn’t feel the same way about the human characters, especially Greta whom I found to be very bland and irritating.  It is kind of a problem when the artificial intelligence is more interesting than the humans.  Think Siri with the world’s nuclear codes.  It’s fair to say though that the events of the book have changed Greta and she promises to be more interesting in future books.

I gave The Scorpion Rules four stars out of five.

Reading catchup part 1 – November 18th 2015The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan
Series: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #1
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Christopher Guetig
Length: 15 hrs and 20 mins
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy, Young Adult
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
I really love Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series and I was very excited for this  new one with Norse mythology.  His writing is always filled with such humour, and Sword of Summer was no exception.  I did realise, though, how unfamiliar I am with Norse mythology compared to Greek/Roman although Riordan did a great job of filling in the blanks.

Sword of Summer is pretty much what you would expect from a Rick Riordan book and I gave it four stars out of five.

Reading catchup part 1 – November 18th 2015The Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim Butcher
Series: The Cinder Spires #1
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Euan Morton
Length: 21 hrs and 46 mins
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
My attention had been drawn to this book because of two things; Jim Butcher and talking cats.  I enjoy Butcher’s Dresden Files series, and I am a real cat person so picking up this book was a no brainer.

The Aeronaut’s Windless is Butcher’s first foray into a kind of steampunk genre and as such it feels very different from the stories of Chicago consulting wizard Harry Dresden.  Butcher has created a vast new world with politics, magic and aerial battles.  I liked the characters as well, especially Rawl the cat and Folly.  It made me wish for a whole book from the cats’ perspectives.

I gave the Aeronaut’s Windlass four stars out of five.

More mini reviews soon!

four-stars

Reading roundup – September 16th 2015

This last couple of weeks I’ve read some great and some not so great books.  Here they are.

Reading roundup – September 16th 2015The Martian by Andy Weir
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: R.C. Bray
Length: 10 hrs and 53 mins
Genres: Sci-Fi
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: five-stars

Now sci-fi isn’t my usual fare, especially where there is more emphasis on the science than the fiction, but The Martian has been getting so much buzz lately that I decided to check it out.  Within a few minutes of listening I was hooked by Watney’s situation; abandoned on Mars, has to use his ingenuity to survive in an inhospitable environment until rescue can come.  Written as it is in a first-person journalistic style this is a perfect book for the audiobook medium, and R.C. Bray did a wonderful job of bringing Mark to life.  Mark is a very witty and engaging protagonist and it is very easy to root for him.  Weir did a fantastic job of explaining the various challenges Mark encounters and his solutions in a way that was easily comprehensible to someone like me who is not science minded.  The story of Mark’s plight and his attempts to secure his rescue was very appealing on a human level.

I gave The Martian five stars out of five.

Reading roundup – September 16th 2015Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death by M.C. Beaton
Series: Agatha Raisin #1
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Penelope Keith
Length: 6 hrs and 26 mins
Genres: Mystery
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: four-stars

I picked up Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death some while ago when it was the Audible deal of the day.  It caught my eye because it was narrated by Penelope Keith, a favourite actress of mine. 

Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death is the first in a series of mystery novels about a retired London PR executive who moves to the English Cotswolds and solves crimes.  I must admit it’s not my favourite mystery series.  As a protagonist, Agatha is distinctly unappealing.  She is the kind of woman who thinks nothing of using a disabled parking space because it’s convenient, or in this case, presenting a store bought quiche in a competition as her own baking.  Her interactions with those around her are generally abrasive and self-centred.  I suspect that later on in the series she may become more likeable, but for this book, she wasn’t the pleasantest person to spend time with.  The mystery was fun.  I’m generally useless at predicting whodunnit, so I can’t say how clever it was.

What I did very much enjoy was the narration.  Growing up the UK, Ms Keith was a staple of comedy TV – The Good Life and To the Manor Born.  Check them out if you’ve not seen them.  She has over 45 years’ experience in television, theatre and radio, and it shows in her witty and competent handling of the narration.  

I gave Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death three stars out of five, but the narration merits five stars.

Reading roundup – September 16th 2015William Shakespeare's Tragedy of the Sith's Revenge by Ian Doescher
Series: William Shakespeare's Star Wars #3
Also in this series: The Empire Striketh Back, The Jedi Doth Return
Format: eBook
Pages: 168 pages
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy
Buy from AmazonKobo
Evelynne's rating: three-half-stars

The Tragedy of the Sith’s Revenge is the last in Ian Doescher’s retelling of Star Wars in Shakespearean language. These are very clever, but my enjoyment of them reflects my enjoyment of the source material.  I did not enjoy the prequel trilogy nearly as much, and so I’ve not enjoyed the adaptation to the same extent.  The original trilogy is deliberately based on the Monomyth which gives it an epic feel, perfectly suiting it to a Shakespearean adaptation.  The prequel trilogy seems more based on special effects which doesn’t pass so well in a Shakespearean setting.

Also, when R2 started channeling Elsa from Frozen saying he should let it go and that the heat never bothered him anyway, I found that a little too distracting.  Your mileage may vary.

I gave The Tragedy of the Sith’s Revenge three and a half stars out of four.

Reading roundup – September 16th 2015Queen Song by Victoria Aveyard
Series: Red Queen #0.5
Also in this series: Glass Sword
Format: eBook
Pages: 45 pages
Genres: Epic Fantasy
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunes
Evelynne's rating: three-stars

I very much enjoyed Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen, so I was keen to pick up the novella Queen Song set in the same world.  I found it very disappointing.  It had none of the great worldbuilding of the main novel and, to be perfectly honest, I found the book just depressing.  I am still very much looking forward to Glass Sword, book two in the series.

I gave Queen Song three stars out of five.

That’s all for this week folks.  See you next time.  Happy reading!

five-stars

Reading roundup – August 28th 2015

In the three weeks since I blogged, I have read several great – and some not so great – books.  Check out my full (spoilery) review of Fool’s Quest by Robin Hobb.  Other books I’ve read are as follows.

Reading roundup – August 28th 2015Voice of Gods by Eleanor Herman
Series: Blood of Gods and Royals #0.5
Format: eBook
Narrator: Gemma Whelan, John Meagher
Pages: 122 pages
Genres: Cutesy romance, Epic Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunes
Evelynne's rating: three-half-stars

One of the YA books generating the most buzz this autumn is Eleanor Herman’s Legacy of Kings.  Herman is a respected historical author and Legacy of Kings is her first foray into YA historical fantasy.  The blurb makes it sound along the lines of Alexander the Great meets Game of Thrones.  I’m assuming minus the graphic sex and violence as it’s YA.  Early reviews have been positive.  I have not yet read/listened to Legacy of Kings (it’s on my TBR list) but I have read the prequel Voice of the Gods, which is currently free on major ebook sites.  It tells the story of the prophecy, which, I assume, is at the basis of the series.  it was… fine.  The worldbuilding was great, as you’d expect from a historian.  The characters were engaging, but in the space of a novella, it was more difficult to become overly attached to them.  I liked the story, but it’d didn’t grab me as fiercely as other books.  It did, however, show me enough to convince me that Legacy of Kings has potential.  Why not check out Voice of the Gods for yourself to see if you might be interested?

I gave Voice of the Gods three and a half stars out of five.

Reading roundup – August 28th 2015Magician's End by Raymond E. Feist
Series: Chaoswar #3
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: John Meagher
Length: 17 hrs and 4 mins
Genres: Epic Fantasy
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: two-stars

This month I finally finished Magician’s End, the last in Raymond E. Feist’s Midkemia Cycle.  To be perfectly honest, if it hadn’t had Feist’s name on it and been the culmination of a series I’ve been reading for decades, it would have ended up in my did not finish pile.  There were two storylines, one, the political/practical which involved characters about whom I struggled to care, and which seemed disconnected from the magical storyline, which had much loved characters but which got bogged down in the philosophical.  

In my opinion the trilogy could have benefited from some heavy editing and been condensed into two much stronger novels. Despite a few wonderful scenes, Magician’s End was a very disappointing entry from a normally masterful storyteller.  

Magician’s End only earned two out of five stars from me.

Reading roundup – August 28th 2015Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Gemma Whelan
Length: 6 hrs and 36 mins
Genres: Cutesy romance, Young Adult
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: five-stars

Finding Audrey has been in my Audible to listen pile for some while now.  I was inspired to listen to it by the review over at PolandBananasBOOKS on YouTube and, like Christine, I loved this book.   Being British born and bred, Kinsella is for me the go-to beach read; light, amusing and witty – think Confessions of a Shopaholic or Remember Me.  Finding Audrey is Kinsella’s first foray into young adult territory and tells the story of the titular Audrey and her recovery from mental illness and her growing romance with her brother’s friend, Linus.  

The subject matter of the protagonist’s dealing with her anxiety issues adds real depth to this novel, more than I generally would expect from Kinsella.  Audrey’s whole healing process is beautifully and sensitively handled.  This doesn’t mean, however, that the book is lacking Kinsella’s usual wit and charm – on the contrary, there were some really hilarious and sweet moments.  The humour is typically British and I very much enjoyed it.

I loved Audrey’s relationships with her family and her growing romance with Linus.  I appreciated that her friends and family were really there for her, even if they didn’t always like the impact her illness had on her – and their – lives.

Gemma Whelan (Yara from Game of Thrones!) took on narration duties and did an amazing job.  She really brought out the humour as well as the challenges of a full blown anxiety attack.  This is a book I would recommend experiencing in audiobook format.

Finding Audrey rated a five stars out of five on my scale.

Added to my library recently

As I mentioned earlier I had been interested in Legacy of Kings, Eleanor Herman’s Alexander the Great/Game of Thrones mashup.  I picked this up in both Kindle and Audible formats, and will likely be my reading/listening matter for my next nightshifts.

Recently I finished Heir of Fire – full review coming soon! – and to ease the wait for Queen of Shadows I picked up the Assassin’s Blade, the compendium of the five Throne of Glass prequel novellas.  It’s going to be interesting to go back to see pre Endovier Celaena.  I picked this up in both Audible and Kindle formats.

There are so many good new releases coming out in September that I will start a new blog post for those.

See you then!

three-half-stars

Reading roundup – August 8th 2015

Hello, yes I know it’s been a while since I blogged – work and life keep getting in the way!

This last couple of weeks has involved routine doctor’s visits for both me and my cat, Isis.  Now, most cats don’t enjoy going to the vet, but Isis takes it to the extreme psycho-cat-going-to-shred-your-hands-and-tear-your-face-off mode complete with screaming, hissing, yowling and hyperventilating (that last, all three of us, the cat the vet and me).  My normally quiet, reserved kitty became so upset the vet had to fit her with a Hannibal Lecter Silence of the Lambs mask, which she STILL managed to remove to sink her teeth into the vet. 

IMG 0009

Poor kitty.  She’s now on meds which fortunately are a little easier to give!

Anyway, onto reading-related matters.

This week I’ve been rather obsessed with the upcoming release of Robin Hobb’s Fool’s Quest, the second in her Fitz and the Fool trilogy.  I enjoyed book one, and more importantly, I’m heavily emotionally invested in the characters of Fitz and the Fool and their unconventional relationship.  Some of the early non-spoiler reviews I’ve read have said that it’s a fantastic return to form by Hobbs, and to my mind she was never off form.  I really can’t wait for release day.  I’m on nightshift on August 11th so I’ll anxiously await the audiobook to hit my Audible download queue at around 3am and start immediately.  From where we left book one, I’m anticipating Fitz going all Liam Neeson in Taken on the Servants of the Archive:

During my nightshift I made excellent progress on some of the series I need to complete, thanks to audiobooks.

Reading roundup – August 8th 2015Magician's End by Raymond E. Feist
Series: Chaoswar #3
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: John Meagher
Length: 17 hrs and 4 mins
Genres: Epic Fantasy
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: three-half-stars

Since my last post I’ve read/listened to books one and two and am half way through the third book in Raymond E. Feist’s Chaoswar saga.  I must admit I’ve been somewhat less than excited about this series.  Although we have Pug and Magnus, I don’t feel as connected to the newer characters as I have in previous Feist series.  I’m also not wild about the whole religious angels/devils Fall from Heaven storyline that seems to be creeping in.

Despite my love for some of the unexpectedly returning characters, I am not too impressed that Feist chose to bring them back.  Their previous plotlines, to my mind, gave good closure to their character arcs and wonderful character development for others.  To bring them back now seems to negate all of that.  Admittedly though, in Feist’s hands, it’s handled in a much better way than a lesser storyteller might have been able to achieve.

I’ve still not completed the entire series, so I will reserve full judgement for when I do.

Reading roundup – August 8th 2015Trapped by Kevin Hearne
Series: The Iron Druid #5
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Luke Daniels
Length: 9 hrs and 2 mins
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: five-stars

The next book I listened to on my nightshift was Trapped, book five in Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles.  As I’ve said before on this blog, I adore this series.  The characters, (Oberon!) worldbuilding and plot are all wonderful.  This is a series best enjoyed in audiobook format thanks to Luke Daniels’ wonderful audio narration.  I can’t say enough good things about this series, so I’ll strongly urge you to go check it out for yourselves. I gave Trapped five stars out of five.

Reading roundup – August 8th 2015Yes Please by Amy Poehler
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Amy Poehler
Length: 7 hrs and 31 mins
Genres: Autobiographies/Biographies, Humorous
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: four-stars

I was looking for something a bit different to listen to during a recent nightshift, something funny, so I decided to listen to Yes Please written and narrated by Amy Poehler (with guests.)  In terms of audiobook production Yes Please is pitch perfect.  The producers have chosen to go for a less “polished” version leaving in snorts and giggles so that it really does feel as if you’re hanging out with Amy and friends.  I believe the text has been adapted slightly to fit the audiobook version.  I also did get a chuckle out of her guest stars.  Hearing Sir Patrick Stewart deliver some of Poehler’s down-to-earth and earthy words in his cultured British accent did give me a few giggles.

That being said, I didn’t necessarily always appreciate some of the language and the jokes, but I can honour Poehler’s commitment to get her laughs from making fun of circumstances or herself not other people’s misfortune.  

I gave Yes Please four stars out of five.

That’s all for today folks.  Expect a review of Fool’s Quest as soon as I have finished it!

Have a  good week.

three-half-stars

Reading roundup – July 6th 2015

Reading roundup – July 6th 2015Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor
Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2
Also in this series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Khristine Hvam
Length: 15 hrs and 21 mins
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: three-half-stars

First of all, may I just say isn’t this the most gorgeous cover art?  I’m not certain who created them, but all three covers (four if you include the novella) in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series are simply stunning.

Days of Blood and Starlight is the second in Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy which is a contemporary fantasy based on the themes of Romeo and Juliet.  We have the star-crossed lovers from different and opposing sides, faked death, boyfriend goes off the rails.  This second instalment is based on the premise of “what if Juliet woke up from her fake death and found, not that Romeo had taken his own life, but that he’d killed all her family and friends?”  

What I liked

The world.  The world that Taylor has created is wonderfully rich and detailed.  I loved reading about the chimaera and seraphim.  We learn more about their world in this book.  

The themes.  The idea of star-crossed lovers is a timeless one.  There is a reason that Romeo and Juliet is a classic, and Taylor has done a great job of interpreting that into modern fantasy.  Add into this the theme of war and peace and you have a wonderful framework for a story.

The characters.  It is very easy to become invested in Karou and Akiva and root for them.  They are likeable, engaging and you feel for their plight.  The supporting characters are also great.  Zuzana and Mik add some much-needed levity to the story.

The writing style.  Taylor’s writing style is poetic and lyrical and is beautiful to read.  Go check it out.

The audio narration.  Once again, Khristine Hvam did a wonderful job – I particularly enjoyed her interpretation of Zuze and Mik.  I really should check out the Zuzana/Mik short story Night of Cake and Puppets also narrated by Hvam.

What I didn’t like

It has to be said, I didn’t enjoy Days of Blood and Starlight as much as Daughter of Smoke and Bone.  I found it a little too… depressing.  After the events of Daughter of Smoke and Bone neither of our protagonists are in a good place emotionally and when you add to that the escalation of the war between the chimaera and the seraphim it doesn’t make fun reading.  Thank goodness for Zuze and Mik!

Because of this, I gave Days of Blood and Starlight three and a half stars out of five.

Reading roundup – July 6th 2015Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Series: Miss Peregrine #1
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Jesse Bernstein
Length: 9 hrs and 41 mins
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: three-half-stars

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs tells the story of 16 year old Jacob Portman and his fascination for his grandfather’s stories of the Home for Peculiar Children in which he grew up.  This institute is home to children who have special abilities and the novel explores what happens when Jacob goes looking for this place after a family tragedy.

What I liked

The concept.  I understand the author, Ransom Riggs, has had for many years a hobby of collecting unusual – read creepy – photos and he developed the novel around a selection of them.  Riggs has done an amazing job of connecting a set of unrelated photos and weaving a darned good narrative out of them.  It should be noted, for those of you thinking of picking up the Audible audiobook, that a PDF is provided with the photos in the book.

The characters.  I liked Jacob, his grandfather and the other characters they meet, especially the Peculiars.  

What I didn’t like

The creep factor.  Some of the photos are downright creepy and the Hollowgast with their tentacles for mouths – ew.  These registered just a little too highly on my creeped out factor.

The audio narration.  I really did not enjoy the audio narration.  Much of the book is set in my country of origin, the UK, and the narrator’s attempt at a British/Welsh accent was, to be kind, all over the place.  This really threw me out of the story on multiple occasions.

Although I will check out the sequel, Hollow City, at some point, I gave Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children three and a half stars out of five.

Reading roundup – July 6th 2015Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks
Series: Night Angel #1
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Various
Length: 8 hrs
Genres: Epic Fantasy
Evelynne's rating: five-stars

This week I dipped into the Graphic Audio production of Brent Weeks’ Way of Shadows.  Graphic Audio’s tagline is “A Move in Your Mind” and I can see why they call it that.  Their productions are enhanced audiobooks in that they include music, sound effects and a full voice cast.  It should be noted that the text isn’t quite a faithful reproduction of the original as a normal audiobook; for example where the narrator would say “it was a dark and stormy night…” instead of the text you’d hear sound effects for thunder and lightning.  

Graphic Audio productions are also a little more expensive than audiobooks, especially if you use Audible credits.  I can appreciate though that the production costs are likely higher.

For me, personally, I found the sound effects and music almost too overwhelming.  I’m a text purist and I like to hear the author’s words as written.  Having said that, I did enjoy the Graphic Audio experience and will probably pick up the rest of the Night Angel series in this format. 

That’s all I have for today.  Have a good week!

three-half-stars

Reading roundup – June 24th 2015

First of all happy St Jean-Baptiste to those of you in Quebec!  It’s the provincial holiday here today and we have great weather for it.

This week I finished Because You’ll Never Meet me by Leah Thomas.  I mentioned it in my last reading roundup – it’s the letter exchange between two young boys whose physical limitations leave them isolated.  I really loved the way their friendship was developed and a full review is coming soon.  

I know many people really enjoy the work of Guy Gavriel Kay, especially those who enjoy high fantasy.  I started reading The Summer Tree, but I just couldn’t get into it.  For some reason, the characters just didn’t click with me and I didn’t find myself drawn into the worldbuilding as I normally am.  In all fairness, I think it was probably more to do with my not really being in the mood for epic fantasy than any fault of the novel or writer.  I will likely revisit it at some point in the future.

This is borne out by the fact that the other book I read this week was Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins.  This is a YA contemporary romance and is the follow up to Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door.  This is a very easy read – sometimes I became a little frustrated that there was little conflict between the two lovers at least at the beginning.  I did love the setting though – what can be more romantic than Paris? – and it was great catching up with characters from the previous two books.  They all make cameo appearances.  I gave Isla and the Happily Ever After four stars out of five.

Actually, it’s fair to say I spent more time watching movies and TV shows this week than reading.  That’s not usual for me.  I watched all four Pirates of the Caribbean movies.  Yes, I think it’s safe to assume I wasn’t in the mood for any heavy drama!  Of course it helped that Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom are very easy on the eye…

I also watched Netflix’s new drama, Sense8.  This is about a group of eight strangers in eight different countries who suddenly find themselves linked with a psychic bond.  They need to work together to discover what has bound them and to ensure that they all remain free and safe.  I really enjoyed this series – it was an interesting concept with a clever script and well acted.  If you’ve not watched it yet, I can recommend it.

This week I went to see Pixar’s Inside Out.  It has been getting great reviews and so I had high expectations.  I’m happy to say it met and exceeded those expectations.  It is a wonderful, sweet movie both amusing and intelligent and should be a must see.

That’s about all I have for this week.  Talk to you soon!

Reading roundup – June 13th 2015

Reading roundup – June 13th 2015Because You'll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Kirby Heyborne, Eric Michael Summerer
Length: 9 hrs and 26 mins
Genres: Humorous, Young Adult
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: four-half-stars

One of the books I started listening to this week is Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas.  This is the story of two young socially isolated boys who become penpals.  Their respective issues – one is highly allergic to electricity and the other requires an electrical pacemaker – precludes their ever meeting.  I’m about a third of the way through it and am very much enjoying it.  It is written in the style of letters the two boys send to each other – which means it’s about as perfect for the audiobook format as you can get.  Both narrators are doing an excellent job.

I may do a full review on this later, so I won’t say much more.

Reading roundup – June 13th 2015Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs
Series: Alpha and Omega
Format: eBook
Pages: 338 pages
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible

Another book I started reading this week was Patricia Briggs’ Dead Heat, the fourth in her Alpha and Omega series.  I felt in the mood for some contemporary fantasy.  I’ve only just started, but so far, so good.  Briggs is usually a reliable go-to for this kind of good, and her characters are generally well-developed and interesting.  I’m beginning to feel though that she has just about come to the natural end of the stories she can tell about Mercy, Adam, Charles and Anna.  We’ll see.  I’ll keep you updated.

Not much more to add this week.   Have a good week and catch you soon!

four-half-stars

Reading roundup – June 6th 2015

This week I’ve been in a real reading slump.  After finishing A Natural History of Dragons, I really couldn’t decide what to read next.  I tried several books including L. E. Modesitt Jr’s The Soprano Sorceress, Star Wars: Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn and  Graphic Audio’s full cast rendition of Brandon Sanderson’s Hero of the Ages, but none of them hit the spot. I was more interested in watching Animal Planet’s Cat Daddy.  Incidentally, this week Jackson Galaxy’s autobiography, also called Cat Daddy, was one of Audible’s Daily Deals so I was happy to pick that one up.  It’s narrated by Jackson himself, so could be a very good listen.

The Liar's KeyFinally I was able to break my slump by picking up Mark Lawrence’s The Liar’s Key.  This is the second in his Red Queen’s War series and continues the story of Jalan and Snorri.  This series is set in the same world as The Broken Empire, and I adored the worldbuilding. I’m really enjoying this book so far – I’m just under half way through.  So far I’m not seeing quite the same character development in Jalan as there was for Jorg in The Broken Empire series, but I’m still hooked on his adventures.  

Added to my library this week

Other than Cat Daddy, I placed a preorder for Erica Johansen’s Invasion of the Tearling.  Now, my impression of the first book in the series wasn’t very positive.  I had some serious issues with the worldbuilding and had decided not to continue with the series.  However, I recently saw some blurb/reviews which indicated that Johansen had specifically addressed these issues and in a rather intriguing way.  It was enough to convince me to give the series another chance.  Interestingly, the audiobook is narrated this time by Davina Porter, who narrates the Outlander audiobooks, so my preorder has been placed with Audible.  This will be the first time I’ve listened to a non-Outlander audiobook narrated by Porter, so it will be interesting.

Enjoy your weekend and I’ll update you next week.

Reading roundup – May 29th 2015

Hello, I’m back!  Once again, sorry for the delay in writing, but I was away on vacation and otherwise busy.  However, I did get through a a few books during our trip:

The Heir The Heir was one of the books I was most looking forward to this month.  It is the first in a follow up series to Keira Cass’s dystopian Selection trilogy, which I loved.  The protagonist of The Heir is Maxon and America’s daughter, Eadlyn.  It deals with the aftermath of the Selection series and shows how the world has changed as a result of Maxon and America’s work.  I enjoyed reading from Eadlyn’s point of view.  She is well-meaning but ultimately rather young and spoiled – which means there’s great scope for character development, something Cass does particularly well.

My biggest issue with the book is the premise.  Apparently, the caste system of The Selection has been abolished, with not complete success, yet the Royal Family remains and lives in luxury?  For me that did not make sense and seemed to be contrived simply to allow the new Selection plotline.  

I could never quite get my head around that so gave the book four stars out of five.

A Court of Thorns and Roses A Court of Thorns and Roses was another of the books I was most looking forward to this month.  It is Sarah J. Maas’s (she of Throne of Glass fame) retelling of the Beauty and the Beast fairytale.  It tells the story of Feyre and her dealings with the Fae.  Like Beauty of the fairytale, Feyre must travel to a mysterious new castle in order to save her family; she is unaware of the ulterior motive behind her invitation – to help break the curse under which the manor’s Fae inhabitants live.

As is to be expected with Sarah J. Maas, the characters are well developed, the adaptation from the source material – and the deviations from it – are beautifully written and the plot moves along at a brisk pace.  All in all, I enjoyed the story very much and will certainly check out the sequel.

I gave A Court of Thorns and Roses four stars out of five.

dream a little dream I absolutely adored Kerstin Gier’s Ruby Red trilogy – it’s one of my favourites – so I’d been looking forward to checking out Dream a Little Dream, the first book in her new series. I have to say I was a little disappointed. It actually took me two or three attempts to get into this book.  It tells the story of Liv Silver and her dream connection with some of her fellow students.  

Liv is a fun character, but she’s no Gwendolyn Shepherd.  I missed her snarky wit.  The book was translated from the German by the same translator as the Ruby Red trilogy so it wasn’t a case of different choices in translation.  For me personally, the dream storyline was not as engaging or interesting as the time travel one of the earlier trilogy.  

It wasn’t a bad book, but I think I’m probably unlikely to pick up the sequel. I gave Dream a Little Dream three stars out of five.

Nothing but shadowsNothing But Shadows is the fourth book in the ebook novellas set in the world of the Mortal Instruments following Simon Lewis as he trains to become a Shadowhunter.  I’ve really been enjoying these books and the glimpses they give into Clare’s world.  They ease the wait until Lady Midnight, the first in the new series.  These novellas are quick reads and are a lot of fun.  This one deals with Will Herondale’s son, and inspired me to reread Clockwork Angel again.

I gave Nothing But Shadows four stars out of five.

A Natural History of Dragons A Natural History of Dragons has been in my library for some while, but I’d not got around to reading it.  That changed when I realised recently that the audiobooks are narrated by one of my favourite narrators, Kate Reading, and that my local library had the audiobook available.  

Fairly quickly after starting to listen to it, I knew this was going to be a favourite, especially in audiobook format, so I invested in the audiobooks of the rest of the series.  The book is set in an alternative Victorian style universe in which wild dragons exist.  The story is told in the form of a memoir, with the older Isabella Trent relating the adventures of her younger years.  Isabella is a young woman of good breeding who must somehow align her passion for dragons with the social mores of the Victorian-style society in which she lives.  Think Jane Austen meets Smaug.

I’m also enjoying the underlying mystery of why the local dragons have become much more aggressive to humans, and of course the audio narration is superb.  Check out a sample.

      bk_aren_001707_sample.mp3

I’ve not quite finished the book yet, but I’m sure it will receive a top rating.

Upcoming releases in June

There is only one book in my upcoming releases for June – that is Mark Lawrence’s The Liar’s Key.  This is the second book in his Red Queen’s War series, and is set in the same world as – and runs concurrently with – his Broken Empire Trilogy.  I love Lawrence’s world building and I’m keen to see where he goes next.

I preordered The Liar’s Key in Kindle format.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers