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Canadian eReader - Page 10 of 74 - E-reader and book reviews

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
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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
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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

Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas – Review

Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas – ReviewBecause 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
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Evelynne's rating: four-half-stars

Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas is a young adult contemporary novel and tells of the pen friendship between two isolated young men, Moritz from Germany and Ollie who lives in the US.  Each of the two young men has a physical ailment which limits their interaction with mainstream society.  These same limitations – for Ollie an severe reaction to electricity and for Moritz a heart defect requiring an electronic pacemaker – precludes their ever meeting face to face.  Their friendship develops through the letters they write to each other.  The novel is written in the style of letters exchanged between the two.

I loved this book, which I listened to in audiobook format.  

What I liked

The characters.  I adored both Ollie and Moritz and was emotionally invested in their journeys.  I was really rooting for them both. Their two differing points of view are beautifully brought out through the letters they write to each other.  Each has a unique writing style which gave a wonderful insight into their characters.  It is a mark of how invested I was in the two that when Moritz finally comes back into contact after an absence of several letters, I had a big smile on my face.

The friendship.  The relationship between the two is wonderfully developed, starting from an initial slow building of trust to the deep bond they share.  It’s clear that both of them are stronger people in the end for the friendship, which encourages them to push beyond their comfort zones.

The audio narration.  Because You’ll Never Meet Me is a perfect book for the audio format given that it is written in letter format.  You are hearing the characters’ words directly.  There were two narrators, one for Moritz (with a gorgeous, slight German accent) and one for Ollie.  Both narrators were brilliantly able to reflect their characters’ personal growth through their performances.

What I didn’t like

In all honesty, there was very little I didn’t like about Because You’ll Never Meet Me.  At one point I did have concerns that Thomas was going to go for the real cliché in the connection between the boys, but she avoided that.

I gave Because You’ll Never Meet Me a well deserved four and a half stars out of five.

    Upcoming releases in July

    July is quite a quiet month in terms of books about which I am excited.  There are three new releases which I am anticipating.

    The first of these is Ian Drescher’s William Shakespeare’s The Clone Army Attacketh.  This is the second in Doescher’s reimagining of the Star Wars prequels (the original trilogy has already been adapted.)  Regular readers of my blog know how much I love these adaptations – they are witty, very clever and a lot of fun to read/listen to.  I am very disappointed, however, that neither The Phantom of Menace or The Clone Army Attacketh are available in audiobook format.  Random House Audio’s full cast productions of the original trilogy adaptations were nothing short of brilliant.  I have contented myself to preorder The Clone Army Attacketh in Kindle format, which is released on July 7th.

    This month sees the publication of two novellas in series I am following.

    Pale Kings and Princes is the next novella in the Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy series by Cassandra Clare and guest authors.  This one is co-authored by Robin Wasserman. I adore Clare’s Shadowhunter world and have been loving these novellas to tide me over in the wait for The Dark Artifices.  Pale Kings and Princes promises to be be particularly intriguing as the blurb promises more information on the Blackthorns, main characters in the Dark Artifices.  This novella is released also on July 7th and I have preordered it on Kindle.

    July 28th sees the release of Heart of Tin, the next novella in Danielle Paige’s Dorothy Must Die series.  The second main novel in the series, The Wicked Will Rise, really whetted my appetite – I’m anxious to know more.  This novella focusses on the Tin Woodman, one of heroine Amy’s antagonists.  From what I’ve seen of the other prequels, No Place Like Oz, The Witch Must Burn and The Wizard Returns, it is not necessary to have read the novellas to enjoy the main series novels, but they help to add depth and context.  In any case, they are fun reads.  I don’t believe the novellas are available in hard copy, so I have preordered Heart of Tin in Kindle format.

    On a slightly different note, I’m anxiously awaiting the launch of Apple Music in the next hour or so.  Now, I will not claim to be an expert in this area, but I do enjoy listening to music.  Currently, I use Rdio for my streaming needs and I really like it.  I don’t use a radio service.  I’m not too adventurous when it comes to exploring music.  Assuming the song library is the same as Rdio’s may main reason for considering switching is the fact that I am an Apple girl, living in an Apple world.  All my music is purchased from, or uploaded to, iTunes, and I listen to it purely on Apple devices.  It would be great to have my streaming integrated with my iTunes library.  I will let you know what I think.

    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

    The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen – Review

    The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen – ReviewThe Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
    Format: Audiobook
    Narrator: Davina Porter
    Length: 18 hrs and 10 mins
    Genres: Dystopian, New Adult, Young Adult
    Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
    Evelynne's rating: four-stars

    The Invasion of the Tearling is the second in Erika Johansen’s YA Tearling fantasy trilogy.  It continues the story of young queen Kelsea Glynn as she prepares to deal with the aftermath of her actions in the first novel, The Queen of the Tearling.

    I’ll start this review by stating that I hadn’t actually intended to continue with this series, given that I had significant issues with Johansen’s worldbuilding and character development in the first book.  However, I recently read the book blurb which indicated to me that Johansen was taking clear steps to address some of the issues with the worldbuilding at least and so I decided to give the series a second chance. 

    What I liked

    Additional point of view character.  For this second outing, Johansen has added a second point of view character, Lily.  Lily is a woman from the pre-Crossing era who has a strange connection with our protagonist, Kelsea.  Through her eyes we learn more about the history of the Tearling’s founding and what led William Tear to strike out to begin his utopia.

    I absolutely loved Lily’s story and, personally, I was far more engaged with her plight than Kelsea’s.  These sections were wonderful both from a plot point of view and character development.  Throughout, I really found myself rooting for her.  This section of the book reads more like a dystopian novel than the traditional fantasy of Kelsea’s section, but it worked very well.  

    It should be noted that Lily’s section deals with some issues which are far grittier and more adult than those generally found in young adult or even new adult books, and was written in a more adult manner.  Lily is notably older than Kelsea and is in a different life stage.  It could well be that’s why I connected more with her, as I too, am older than your average young adult protagonist!

    Lily’s character development was beautifully written.

    Kelsea’s romantic life. Often in YA, this can be a particularly problematic area, with the romance either subjected to the inevitable love triangle or so overblown with stars and rainbows it becomes intolerable.  I get it.  First love can be awesome.  Too often though YA authors portray it through rose-tinted spectacles.  Johansen’s portrayal of this part of Kelsea’s life felt grounded in reality and was excellently written.

    In general I found Kelsea more consistently written in Invasion of the Tearling than she was in Queen.  I particularly enjoyed how the connection between her and Lily played out.

    The pre-Crossing history.  The promise of learning more about the founding of the Tearling was what drew me back in to give this series a second chance and Johansen certainly made good on that promise.  I loved what we got, but I’m not one hundred percent convinced, though, that she has allayed the concerns I had from the first book.  I still can’t see the logic in why Harry Potter survived the Crossing but the internal combustion engine didn’t.  We still have a lot to discover, so I’ll suspend final judgement on this aspect until after the final book.

    What I didn’t like

    Additional point of view.  Yes, I know I had this listed in part of my Likes; let me explain.  The two main point of view characters are in different worlds, and are at different life stages and more, importantly, are written as such.  It feels almost like two completely separate books, and I’m not certain that they are targeting the same audience.

    The audio narration.  I had a bit of a problem with the audio narration.  The book is narrated by Davina Porter, who, don’t get me wrong, does a great job.  My issue is that she is best known to me as the narrator of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series.  Ms Porter has a distinctive voice and half the time I kept expecting Jamie Fraser to come sauntering into the scene.  That was my personal issue though and it may not be one for you.

    In summary then, I found Invasion a stronger book than Queen of the Tearling.  That’s not to say it’s perfect by any means.  I’m still not completely certain Johansen can pull together a completely cohesive overall story arc by the end of the trilogy, but I’m invested enough that I want to read book three to find out.

    I gave Invasion of the Tearling 3.5-4 stars out of five.

      four-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.

      Upcoming releases in May 2015

      There are three books being released in May about which I am very excited.  Some good books to have ready for my vacation in a couple of weeks!

      A Court of Thorns and RosesThe one about which I am most excited is A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas of Throne of Glass fame.  This is a retelling of the classic fairytale Beauty and the Beast and tells the story of Feyre, a young woman who becomes entangled with the mysterious fey in order to save her loved ones.  I understand this will be the start of a series of books as well. I’ve loved the Throne of Glass series and the five chapter sample which has been released has only served to whet my appetite. A Court of Thorns and Roses is released on May 5th 2015.  I can’t wait!

      The HeirThe next upcoming release I’m looking forward to is Keira Cass’s The Heir.  This is a new story set 20 years after the events of The Selection and deals with the attempts of America and Maxon’s daughter to find her partner in a Selection of her own.  I’m also really looking forward to this one.  The One, the final book in The Selection was one of my top reads of 2014 – if you remember, it’s The Hunger Games meets The Bachelor.  I look forward to seeing what’s gone on in Ilea in the last 20 years and if Maxon and America have been able to achieve their aims.  It’s not often that you get to see the aftermath of a dystopian series 20 years later.  The Heir is also released on May 5th 2015.

      The Sword of the NorthThe Sword of the North is the second in Luke Scull’s grimdark series The Grim Company.  It’s been a while since I read book one, so I can’t remember much about it.  I do remember though that I was very invested in the characters at the time.  Book two is on preorder and should hit my Kindle also on May 15th.

      Are you planning to pick up any of these?  Let me know in the comments.

      Reading roundup – April 27th 2015

      Reading roundup – April 27th 2015Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor
      Series: Chronicles of St Mary's #1
      Format: Audiobook
      Narrator: Zara Ramm
      Length: 9 hrs and 30 mins
      Genres: Contemporary Fantasy, Humorous, Humourous
      Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
      Evelynne's rating: five-stars

      It’s always fun to come across a great new series by accident.  A couple of weeks ago, Audible sent me one of their new release by author X emails advising me that book five in Jodi Taylor’s Chronicles of St Mary’s series had been released.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with this series, it’s about time travelling historians, or as I like to think of it, Connie Willis with more tea.  

      The premise sounded interesting, so I went to check out the rest of the series on Audible. I was surprised to find that book one was listed as In my library.  It appears Audible had included it as one of their Daily Deals some time ago, and I’d picked it up.  As an aside, it’s definitely worth signing up for those daily deal emails – you can find some excellent deals for $4.

      What I liked

      The humour.  The humour is very British and, being British born and bred, it really appealed to me.  I also appreciated the references to the copious amounts of tea drunk by the historians!  

      The protagonists.  I really enjoyed hearing about Max and her disaster magnet coworkers.  I enjoyed the way she found humour in the most dire situations in which she ends up.  The way the romance was slowly built up was beautifully done and realistic.

      The concept.  Time travelling historians.  That pretty much says it all.  I understand from Taylor’s bio that she is particularly interested in history and it shows in the descriptions of the times and places Max and her coworkers visited.  The business model the historians of St Mary’s come up with towards the end of the book is intriguing and should provide fodder for many more stories to come.  The concept of a vengeful “history” seems not quite yet fully fleshed out, but promises good things for future books, if that is the direction Taylor chooses to go.  Alternatively, I rather enjoyed the evil historian antagonist plotline.

      Surprising twists. When I first started listening to it, my first thoughts was that this was a very amusing, if light story, but then there were a few twists that raised the stakes for our protagonists and drew me in even more to the story.

      The narration.  The audiobook narration was brilliantly provided by Zara Ramm.  She really “got” Max’s voice and  the humour of the story.  I will certainly continue with this series in audiobook format rather than ebook because of the wonderful narration.

      What I didn’t like

      Unexplained/unlimited time travel.  This for me was one of the biggest weaknesses in the story.  Certainly, Taylor has chosen to focus more on the historical side of time travel rather than the science fiction, so makes no attempt to explain how it works.  That I can live with.  What was more problematic for me was that there appeared to be no limitations on Taylor’s time travel.  They can set the coordinates and go wherever and whenever they wish.  The historians appear to have no fear of disturbing the timeline – aka the grandfather paradox.  As with fantastical magic systems, often what you can’t do can be more interesting than what you can.

      Leaving out limitations means there is a whole area of narrative tension left unexplored. This is also what led to my initial thought of light, amusing fluff.  I will say though that there are definite seeds in this first book in the series which indicates this may be addressed more fully in later books.

      Despite these few concerns, I loved Just One Damned Thing After Another and gave it five stars out of five.  In fact, I enjoyed it so much I’ve just gone out and purchased the rest of the series.  Go check them out and enjoy.

      As I mentioned in my last blog, my husband and I are setting off on a big train trip in a couple of weeks;  we’re doing the ViaRail trans Canada journey on The Canadian.  Being the avid reader that I am, I have been reading some books for advice. 

      All Aboard: The Complete North American Train Travel Guide 

      One of the main books I read for my research was All Aboard: The Complete North American Train Travel Guide by Jim Loomis.  This is a very detailed guide to train travel in North America and includes everything from tips on how to get the best fare to the facilities you’re likely to have onboard.  Although I have travelled by train many times before, this is my very first long haul train journey and I found this book invaluable.  

      Equally importantly, Loomis’ passion for train travel comes across very well and that only served to enhance my excitement for our trip.  

      Trans-Canada Rail GuideThe Trans-Canada Rail Guide is more of a traditional travel guide than a how-to of long distance rail travel.  It contains tourist information on the places we will visit on our trip and most interestingly a route map for the train journey indicating places of interest at each point.  My biggest gripe with this book is that it is not available in ebook format – I will have to take the hard copy with me rather than having it on my Kindle.

      That’s all for this week.  Back soon. 

      five-stars
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