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Reading roundup – April 21st 2015

Star Wars NPR productionAs I mentioned in my last reading roundup, I’ve been catching up with John  Stephens’ Books of Beginning in preparation for the release of The Black Reckoning.  As I’ve been on nightshift, I’ve listened to these books in audiobook format, narrated by Jim Dale.  I’m generally not a big fan of Dale’s narration – a personal opinion; I know many listeners value his work highly – but I did enjoy his narration for this series.  For those of you unfamiliar with this series, it’s about three sibling orphans who find that they are fated to be the Keepers of the mystical Books of Beginning.  This concluding book brings all the threads of the series together.  I did enjoy that the series didn’t end immediately after they defeated the Big Bad; it’s always interesting to see heroes try to adapt to the normal world and family life.  While no Harry Potter or even Percy Jackson, this is an enjoyable series and is work picking up.  

I gave The Black Reckoning four stars out of five.

Tales from the Shadowhunter AcademyEvery month in the leadup to the release of Cassandra Clare’s Lady Midnight, the first in a new Shadowhunter series, she along with co-writers is releasing a short novella set in Shadowhunter Academy following fan favourite Simon Lewis.  I particularly enjoyed this month’s entry, The Whitechapel Fiend, focussing as it does on the Victorian era, around the time of the Infernal Devices trilogy.  Personally I loved the Infernal Devices more that the Mortal Instruments, so I appreciated revisiting old friends.  Each of these novellas is self contained and takes the edge of the wait for Lady Midnight.

I gave The Whitechapel Fiend four stars out of five.

After having read so much middle-grade/YA books in the last couple of weeks, I really needed something more… adult, so I’ve picked up book four in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, The Drums of Autumn.  I’m listening to this in audiobook format, narrated by the wonderful Davina Porter.  I’m really enjoying the continuation of Claire’s and Jamie’s story.  Interestingly, Gabaldon announced this week that an audio version of her Outlandish Companion will be released later this year.  Porter will narrate the book summaries and, I believe, character lists etc, while Gabaldon herself will narrate the anecdotes.  That could be interesting.  However, I’ve been using my Kindle copy  of the Outlandish Companion more as a reference, which isn’t so easy in audiobook format.

Speaking of upcoming audiobook releases, I read today that Blake Charlton’s Spellwright trilogy is coming to audiobook.  This is a really fun series with a fascinating magic system, and is worth checking out.  Book three isn’t scheduled until June 2016, which is a bit of a wait.  You’ve time to get caught up on Spellwright and Spellbound!

Also newly in audiobook format is V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic.  I’ve already read this in Kindle format, so I will probably give the audiobook a miss.  However, if you’ve not read it, it is well worth picking up.  I was excited to see the cover and synopsis for book two in the series, A Gathering of Shadows, due in February 2016.  I have my pre-order in already.

One book which I’m disappointed is not yet in audiobook format is Ian Doescher’s The Phantom of Menace. I’ve loved, loved LOVED Random House Audio’s full cast productions for the previous books in the series.  I really hope they do one for Phantom.  I’ve been leafing through this in Kindle format and am enjoying what I”m reading.  As Doescher himself would say though, Shakespeare (even a Star Wars universe version) is best experienced in the hands of talented actors.  I’m particularly appreciating what he’s doing with Jar Jar Binks.  It may even make watching him in the movies more tolerable. In any case, you should check it out.

In a couple of weeks my husband and I set off for our trans Canadian train trip.  If anyone can recommend any good Canadian travelogues, preferably in the style of Bill Bryson, I would be grateful.

That’s all for this week folks.  Talk to you soon.

Reading Roundup – April 13th 2015

This week for me has been a week of Skull Thrones and Star Wars and Shakespeare, Oh My!  

The Skull Throne by Peter V. BrettOne of the big releases of last week was The Skull Throne, the fourth in Peter V Brett’s Demon Cycle fantasy series.  I have read and enjoyed the three previous ones so I was keen to read the fourth.  More accurately, I should say listened to as I experienced this book in audiobook format. In general, I did enjoy it, but I did have a few issues.  

The biggest challenge I had was the sheer amount of in world vocabulary Brett has invented for this series.  I admit it’s been a while since I read any books in the series, but at first I found all the jiwah Ka, khaffit, Shar’Dama Ka, inevera  rather disconcerting and it threw me out of the story on many occasions.  I ended up having to keep the Krasian dictionary open on my computer while I was listening.  Eventually I was able to move beyond this and enjoy the story.

For me one of the highlights of the book were the beautifully written interpersonal relationships, notably that between Ahmann Jardir and Arlen Bales.  These are two men of honour, with very different life views, both of whom want the same thing.  The chapters in which they have to work to come to terms with their history and achieve some kind of detente were particularly enthralling to me.  I also enjoyed reading about Rojer’s unconventional homelife and Leesha’s baby daddy drama.

Personally, I was not particularly engaged by the chapters relating to the Krasian political drama.  I did not find Jayan a particularly threatening villain.  Also, I was completely hooked by Arlen and Jardir’s storyline, which I imagine will form the backbone of The Core, the final book in the series.  I found myself wishing I were reading about them rather than the Krasian internal politicking.

Narration for The Skull Throne was performed by Pete Bradbury.  I would say the narration was competent rather than outstanding.

All in all though I did enjoy The Skull Throne and would give it four stars out of five.  More thought, it whetted my appetite for the series finale.

For those of you who are unaware, last week saw the release of all six Star Wars movies in digital download format.  I already have the original trilogy on Blu Ray, but I did pick up the prequel trilogy.  I am seriously excited for The Force Awakens, which I hope will take after the originals and not the prequels.

The Phantom of MenaceIn keeping with the Star Wars theme, Ian Doescher has published his Shakespearean take on the first of the prequels, The Phantom of Menace.  I’ve not yet read it, but I’m hearing good things about it, particularly in Doescher’s handling of the prequels’ most controversial character Jar Jar Binks.  I was extremely disappointed though that as of yet there is no sign of an accompanying full cast audiobook production.  I really hope that there will be.  These productions were a real highlight for me of the first set of Shakespearean Star Wars books.

The Emerald Atlas This week also saw the release in the final book of John Stephens’ middle grade series The Books of Beginning – The Black Reckoning.  I wanted to catch up before reading it, and I saw that my library had the audiobooks of the first two.  These are narrated by Jim Dale.  Now, normally I am not a big fan of Dale’s narration.  It’s kind of hit and miss for me.  I didn’t enjoy his Harry Potter narration but did enjoy the Night Circus.  I did really enjoy his narration for these books though and have added the Black Reckoning to my audiobook collection.

Well, that’s all for today.  Have a good week everyone!

Reading roundup – April 3rd 2015

Good morning and welcome to another reading roundup.  This was another week of nightshifts so a lot of audiobook consumption was involved.  Here are some of the books I enjoyed this week.

The Wicked Will Rise by Danielle Paige The Wicked Will Rise is the second novel in Danielle Paige’s reimagining of L Frank Baum’s Oz in which Dorothy has turned evil.  Some of you who read my review of the first novel, Dorothy Must Die, may remember that I had a few issues with it, notably the pacing and the audiobook production.  I am happy to say I found no such issues with the sequel.  I found the pacing much more lively and consistent and it kept me listening along.  I would strongly suggest that you read the e-novella The Wizard Returns beforehand – it’s not strictly necessary, but it will fill in a few blanks.

The protagonist, Amy Gumm, continues to be kickass and engaging and I loved hearing the continuation of her story.  I found some of the situations and emotional problems she has to deal with very well done.  The narrator, Devan Sorvani, once again did an excellent job of bringing her to life and the production was much better this time in that there were no annoying long pauses between paragraphs.

What I particularly enjoyed about this book was that it took the story in a completely different direction – and a new and interesting direction – than what I had been expecting.  It’s always excellent when an author can surprise you.  I really look forward to book three now.

I picked up The Wicked Will Rise in both Kindle and Audible format and gave it five stars out of five.

The Skull Throne by Peter V BrettI had been eagerly awaiting this fourth instalment in Peter V. Brett’s Warded Man cycle..  I’ve only just started it, but so far there have already been a couple of WTF?!? moments.  One thing that did strike me though was how much in-world Krasian jargon Brett uses that I’d forgotten about – it’s been a while since I read/listened to Daylight War.  The first section of the book that I’ve been listening to deals with the Krasians and every fifth word or so it seemed was a made up Krasian word.  I eventually had to open the Krasian dictionary on my computer as a reference so that I could remind myself what khaffit, Jiwah Ka and other phrases meant.  It did put a real hurdle in my enjoyment of the book, but I’m sure I’ll overcome that.

I picked up The Skull Throne in both Kindle and Audible formats.

The Outlandish Companion The Outlandish Companion is, as it says on the tin, a companion volume to books 1-4 in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. It is written by Gabaldon herself and has been freshly updated to include information and behind the scenes titbits on the Starz TV show.  The book is a fascinating mixture of reference material – synopses, character lists – and anecdotes from Gabaldon about her experience writing the novels.  As I’ve only read 2.5 of the four books, I have had to be a little careful to avoid spoilers, but otherwise I found the book engrossing.  I’ve treated it more like a reference book – jumping to the chapters that interest me.  Gabaldon’s wit and intelligence really come across in this book.

As a bonus, reading it has FINALLY managed to get me across that reading hump I experienced about a third of the way through Voyager.  Three times I reached the same point, put the book down and got stuck at the same point when I came back to it.  Thinking about it, it’s because for me, that point seems to be the natural conclusion of the framing story started in Dragonfly in Amber and I really, really struggled to get past it.  I’m now happily well beyond it and becoming once again sucked in to Jamie and Claire’s next adventures.

I picked up The Outlandish Companion in Kindle format only.

Other than the books mentioned, I have added two other books to my library this week – my poor bank balance.

Given my revived interest in the Outlander books I preemptively purchased the Kindle and Audible books of book four in the series, Drums of Autumn.  Yay for Whispersync for Voice – the audiobook cost me $3.99 instead of nearer $40.  Bargain!

Mark Lawrence recently released a short story in his Broken Empire world – Sleeping Beauty: A Broken Empire short story.  Now, I’ve not read it yet, but based on the author and the synopsis, it has to be a winner.  I picked it up in Kindle format.

Thats all I have time for today folks – Claire and Jamie call.  Talk to you next week!

Reading roundup – March 27th 2015

Yikes, has it really been a month since my last reading roundup?  My apologies for the delay – life got in the way as it often does.

Star Wars NPR productionAs I’m back on nightshifts again (cue: sob, wailing, gnashing of teeth) I have been listening to a lot of audiobooks.  My favourites, and a highlight of my reading/listening month, were the NPR radio adaptations of George Lucas’ Star Wars. I picked the first one up, Star Wars, some time ago when it was one of Audible’s Daily Deals but had not got around to listening to it.  I rectified that mistake last weekend and loved it.  This adaptation has been licensed from George Lucas, so they were able to incorporate John Williams’ iconic music and the sound effects from the movies (blasters!  lightsabers! R2D2!).  It boasts an excellent cast including Mark Hamill and Anthony Daniels from the movies.   At first it did take me a short while to adapt to the different voices for Leia, Han and Darth Vader, but the production quality and the excellence of the cast soon made me forget about that.  As I’ve said before on this blog, the original Star Wars movies have such strong themes and powerful storylines and these productions did them justice. There were a few clumsy script moments as the radio production tried to explain what was going on (“oh wow, my lightsaber is coming towards me by the Force!) but other than that, there is nothing to fault these fantastic productions.

I enjoyed this so much that I bought extra Audible credits so that I could pick up The Empire Strikes Back and The Return of the Jedi. Although I have not yet listened to Jedi, Empire was equally engaging.  I give the productions five stars out of five.

Thief's Magic by Trudi CanavanTowards the middle of the month I hit a bad reading slump.  To get out of it I did what I often do: I browsed through the first few chapters of several books in my TBR pile to see which one would engage my attention.  This time it was Thief’s Magic by Trudi Canavan.  This is set in a world where magic is being used up by industry – rather like our fossil fuels – and is therefore highly restricted and follows two very different characters with two very different but parallel paths.  What originally attracted me to the novel is that one of the “characters” is a talking magic book!  Although it didn’t immediately grab me – it grew on me more slowly – it was enough to break my reading slump.  I started reading it, but switched to the audiobook to continue during my nightshifts.  I particularly enjoyed the narration for this book by Grant Cartwright and Hannah Norris.  At first it took me aback that they are Australian, but then, I realised it made sense given that the author is Australian, too.

I did enjoy Thief’s Magic and gave it a solid 3.5 to 4 stars out of five.

Orphan QueenJodi Meadows’ Orphan Queen has been highly publicised recently and I gave in to the hype and bought it. This book is about an exiled queen whose land was conquered while she was a baby and, now a teenager, plots to infiltrate the enemy’s stronghold to help her win back her kingdom. In all honesty, this book frustrated the heck out of me, and not in a good way. Too many times I found myself thinking “what, seriously?” at some of the things our protagonist says and does.

The book got off on the wrong foot with me when I found several grammatical mistakes in a the first chapter.  When I’m paying $11 for a book, I do expect that the author and/or editor has corrected these.  One or two I could overlook, perhaps, especially in an unfinished ARC, but not for the finished copy.

Secondly, while the protagonist is kickass, her sheer cluelessness in certain situations really annoyed me.  Furthermore, I felt the relationships described – such as the one between Wil and her closest friend – were unrealistically drawn.  I just didn’t feel their friendship could continue in the way the author claimed it did after all that had happened.  I also had predicted the “huge reveal” at the end of the book back in the first couple of chapters.

To have something positive to say, I will say that I enjoyed Wil’s badassery and the snarky relationship between her and Black Knife.

For me, personally, I just can’t recommend this book.  Sorry.  I gave it two stars out of five.

The Indigo Spell by Richelle MeadRecently, Amazon had a one-day special offer where all the Bloodlines books were $1.99 each.  This was too good an offer to pass up, so I added the last four to my collection.  The series is growing on me, like the Vampire Academy series of which it is a spinoff.  I didn’t particularly engage with protagonist Sydney Sage in the first book, Bloodlines, but I do love the world Mead has created, and now, after three books, I really like Sydney as a protagonist.  I realised Mead had done her job well when I found myself mourning with Sydney over the loss of her car, Latte!  I probably won’t marathon the rest of the books, but they are fun reads.

I gave The Indigo Spell four stars out of five

Well there you go – that’s what I’ve been reading this month.  Speak to you soon!

Most Anticipated releases of April 2015

Good evening dear readers!  I’m sorry I’ve not blogged for some while.  I’ve been busy adjusting to my new graveyard schedule, and that’s going to go on for some while, so I may not be blogging regularly for some while.  On the plus side, I did get through a few audiobooks – I will be publishing a reading roundup at some point soon in which I will discuss some of them.

In any case, here are my most anticipated upcoming releases.

Texts from Mittens: A Cat Who Has an Unlimited Data Plan written by Mitten with help from Angie Bailey.  Strictly speaking, this isn’t an April release as it’s released on March 31 – deal with it.  For those of you who haven’t met Mittens, he’s a tuxedo cat who maintains close communication with his caregiver via text.  I follow Mittens on Facebook and he’s hilarious.  He’s publishing a book of his collected texts and it promises to be a fun read.  I preordered it on Kindle

William Shakespeare’s The Phantom of Menace.  One of my top reads of 2014 was Ian Doescher’s adaptation of George Lucas’ Star Wars into Shakespearean language.  Now it’s time for the prequels, the first of which, The Phantom Menace, is released on April 7th.  I’ll likely grab this in audiobook format – if it’s like the original trilogy Random House’s full cast production will be stellar.  Incidentally, if you preorder, you can get some cool swag from the publishers.  Now, I will admit to some misgivings; the original Star Wars trilogy had a strong narrative and timeless themes which made the adaptation to Shakespearean style work very well.  The same cannot be said of the prequels which had too much reliance on special effects for my taste.  However, I have faith in Doescher that he will come up with something memorable.  I’ve preordered this on Kindle.

The Black Reckoning (Books of Beginning Book 3) by John Stephens.  Published on April 7, this is the final book in Stephens’ middle grade trilogy.  I did enjoy the first two, and am happy to pick up the third.  The series is difficult to explain – kids having all kinds of adventures while trying to save the world – so best to check it out for yourself.  I preordered it on Kindle.

Dream a Little Dream (The Silver Trilogy).  Written by Kerstin Gier and translated from the German by Andrea Bell, this is the first in a new series from the author of the Ruby Red trilogy.  Amazon recently released the first five chapters free, so check it out. The first five chapters don’t really give away much about the world or the plot, but it’s enough to see that Gier (and Bell) have retained the witty, snarky style that was so charming in Ruby Red.  The audiobook is narrated by Marisa Calin who did such a fantastic job with the Ruby Red trilogy.  Dream a Little Dream is released on April 14th.

Rogue by Julie Kagawa.  This is the second in Kagawa’s YA series about dragons posing as modern day teens.  The first book was a lot of fun, so I will pick up the sequel in Kindle format. This is released on April 28,2015

Let me know in the comments if you’ll be picking up any of these.

Reading roundup – February 28th 2015

Good afternoon!  I’m sorry for the lack of posts in the last couple of weeks, but I have been on vacation.  It was a very relaxing vacation spent visiting family and I got to read a whole bunch, which was excellent.  With being on holiday, I added so much to my library.

I was really in the mood for a quirky contemporary romance, so I added Rainbow Rowell’s Landline to my collection and read and finished it straight away.  It was an excellent choice and I devoured it straight up.  I loved the main character, Georgie McCool – what an awesome name! – and adored how her relationship with her husband was explored in both past and present.  Definitely worth picking up.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard has been promoted very heavily recently, and I gave in and bought it.  I ended up really enjoying it and will write a full review soon.

Despite not being blown over by Bloodlines by Richelle Mead, I was really in the mood for that kind of book and after leafing through Golden Lily in a bookstore I picked it up in Kindle format.  I did enjoy it more than the first book in the series, but not enough to want to go out and buy the rest of the series immediately as I did with Vampire Academy.  I will probably continue the series at some point but not immediately.

One of my most anticipated releases of March was Victoria Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic.  I’d been hooked from the sneak preview I saw and had it downloaded to my Kindle on release day, February 23rd.  I’ve already finished it and will be writing a full review soon.

One of my favourite YA series is the Gem trilogy by Kerstin Gier – Ruby Red, Sapphire Blue and Emerald Green.  The German Blu Ray of Sapphire Blue comes out next week and I have ordered it from Amazon Germany.  Amazon also has the first five chapters for free of the English translation for Gier’s newest series Dream a Little Dream.  It has the same engaging narrative style as the Gem trilogy and although the first five chapters were not enough to give a real sense of the story, I will probably check it out.

Katytastic. one of my favourite booktubers, recently has started reviewing the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson and this has inspired me to pick up the books in audiobook format – read by the fantastic Michael Kramer – for a reread.  Excellent books, all, and I can’t wait for Kat’s thoughts on Hero of the Ages.

I also borrowed a few books from the library.  One of these was Golden Son by Pierce Brown.  I wasn’t really blown away by Red Rising, but Golden Son has been getting rave reviews so I thought I should check it out.  I’ll be honest and say I just couldn’t get into it.  I did spend an Audible credit to have it in my library, so I may try to go back to it again.

Another book I borrowed was Shopaholic in Hollywood by Sophie Kinsella which I borrowed in audiobook format. It was a lot of fun at first, but I found I got rather bored of the same situations coming up again and again and lack of character development for Becky.  I didn’t bother finishing it.

One borrowed book I did finish was Loki’s Wolves by K. L. Armstrong and M. A. Marr.  This is a kind of poor man’s Rick Riordan with teens being linked to Norse gods and having to save the world.  It was a lot of fun, but probably not enough for me to continue the series.  I’d rather wait and see Riordan’s take o the Norse mythology.

Upcoming releases in March

There are quite a few books coming out in March about which I am excited:

Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs.  This is the fourth book in her Alpha and Omega series.  I do enjoy these so I have preordered this in Kindle format.  Dead Heat is released on March 3rd.

The Lost Herondale – Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy.  This is the second in a series of novellas from Cassandra Clare and Robin Wasserman and follows Simon Lewis as he continues Shadowhunter training.  If it’s like the first one, it’s fun, but not particularly deep.  Still it will pass an enjoyable couple of hours and ease the wait for Lady Midnight.  I’ll pick this up in Kindle format on March 17th.

The Skull Throne by Peter V. Brett.  This is the fourth in the Demon Cycle series.  I’m honestly surprised that I’ve not heard more buzz about this one.  I really enjoy Brett’s worldbuilding and the narrative he is developing.  It’s not yet available on Audible but I will be picking this up in both audiobook and Kindle format.  The Skull Throne is released on March 30th.

On March 31st Danielle Paige’s sequel to Dorothy Must Die, The Wicked Will Rise, will be released.  Now, I did have some serious issues with the first book, but the world is intriguing enough for me to want to continue the story.  I’ll pick this up in both Audible and Kindle formats.

One expensive splurge I’m making on March 31st is the updated version of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlandish Companion.  At $21 it’s quite expensive, but I do enjoy the series – both books and TV – and will enjoy learning more about the background.  It will be available in Kindle format.

My work hours have changed now, and I’ll have to go back to nightshifts very shortly about which I am pretty bummed.  The only bright spot is that I will be able to get through a lot of audiobooks.  Any recommendations for me?

Have a good week – until next time.

The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon – Review

The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon – ReviewThe Mime Order by Samantha Shannon
Also in this series: The Bone Season
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Alana Kerr
Length: 16 hours and 28 minutes
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy, Dystopian
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: four-half-stars

The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon is the second in her dystopian fantasy series – it is the follow on to The Bone Season which I have read and reviewed.  It follows straight on from the ending of The Bone Season and deals with the aftermath of the events of that novel.  I will say straight off that I enjoyed The Mime Order much more than the series opener.  Much of the heavy lifting in terms of worldbuilding has been done – although there is naturally much more to learn – so Shannon is able to concentrate on weaving a strong narrative.

What I liked

Very strong narrative.  For me this worked very well in this book.  Our protagonist has a clear, logical goal towards which she is working – the uniting of the clairvoyant underworld to provide a viable opposition to the Raphaim – and while there are lots of twists and turns in the way, it remains the backbone of the story.  Personally, I was invested in this plotline and enjoyed watching it coming to fruition.  I also felt Shannon kept the plot moving on briskly and had me wanting to keep turning the pages.

Engaging protagonist.  The more time I spent with Paige the more I liked her and was invested in her goals.  She is clearly a smart cookie and I look forward to continuing her story.

Mix of genres.  I enjoyed that the novel crossed quite a few genres.  We had the dystopian fantasy (which took a bit of a back seat this time), a murder mystery, mafia crime novel and a bit of romance.

Audiobook narration.  I listened to The Mime Order primarily in audiobook and once again Irish actress Alana Kerr took on narration duties.  I really enjoyed her interpretation of the book and will certainly continue to follow this series in audiobook because of her excellent narration.  Here’s a sample:

      bk_adbl_020334_sample.mp3

What I didn’t like

Lots of jargon.  This was one of my biggest gripes about The Bone Season and that continues in the sequel  After a while I gave up trying to work out what kind of clairvoyant particular characters were and where they stood in the clairvoyant hierarchy.

The relationship between Paige and Warden.  I really couldn’t get behind this relationship at all in this book.  As Paige’s friends kept pointing out to her, Warden did keep her captive for several months and exercised the power of death over her.  I just didn’t feel that his aid at the end of The Bone Season justified the level of trust Paige placed in him.  I keep thinking Paige, sweetie, jump online and do a quick Google of Stockholm syndrome please.  It’s also very clear that the way their relationship developed in The Mime Order is going to come back and bite them on the butt very, very soon.

All in all I really loved The Mime Order.  I gave it four and a half stars out of five and will certainly continue with this series.

 buy from Amazon, Kobo, iTunes, Audible

four-half-stars

Reading Roundup – February 6th 2015

Hello and welcome to this week’s reading roundup.

In actual fact I don’t have a great deal to talk about this week.  I’ve been reading/listening to Samantha Shannon’s The Mime Order, the sequel to her Bone Season.  I very much enjoyed it and a full review will be coming soon.  I just finished it, and have not yet decided what book to pick up next.  I am rather tempted to listen to Sanderson’s Mistborn

This week I found out that at work I’m almost certainly moving back to nightshifts in a month’s time, which really, really sucks.  I’m trying to remain positive, to think of all the audiobooks I will listen to during those shifts.  

Added to my library this week

I only added the one book to my Kindle library this week and it was a free book: Until Midnight by Melissa Landers.  This is a novella in her Alienated series which is about a girl who falls in love with an alien.  I read the first book and found it a lot of fun so I was happy to pick up this free snippet.  As it’s set after the events of Alienated, it’s probably not the best place to start if you’re new to the series.

In terms of audiobooks, Audible had one of their regular $4.95 flash sales so I picked up Terry Goodkind’s First Confessor. You can hardly go wrong with Terry Goodkind.

I realised that I forgot to include my most anticipated releases of February in my last reading roundup.  The main one I’m looking forward to is A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab.  I’ve read the excerpt and it looks sooooo good.  A Darker Shade of Magic will be released on February 24th.

What are you looking forward to reading in February?

Fairest – Levana’s Story by Marissa Meyer – Review

Fairest – Levana’s Story by Marissa Meyer – ReviewFairest - Levana's Story by Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #0.5
Also in this series: Cinder, Scarlet, Cress
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Rebecca Soler
Length: 6 hours 36 minutes
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy, Young Adult
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: three-half-stars

Fairest – Levana’s Story by Marissa Meyer is a prequel to her fairytale reimagining series The Lunar Chronicles.  It provides the backstory to series antagonist Queen Levana Blackburn of Luna.  If you are new to The Lunar Chronicles, PLEASE don’t start with this book – go read Cinder, Scarlet and Cress and then come back to it.  It will be more engaging in that way.

This book is a very focussed character study of Queen Levana and how she turned from a naive, self absorbed young girl into the tyrant our heroines are trying to depose.  There is little in the way of worldbuilding or major plot development.  It remains mostly confined to the Lunar Royal Palace.

What I liked

Character development.  This is the focus of the book and is excellently done.  We follow Levana’s progression from a self absorbed, naive young girl to the vicious despot of the later books. I appreciated how each step and decision she took along that path was small and logical at the time but each developed her character as it turned out to be.  I found her an interesting character, and at many points she gained my sympathy for what she went through.

Character cameos.  Many of the characters from the later books made cameo appearances as their younger selves.  Even if they weren’t specifically named as such it was great fun to spot Cinder, Cress, Kai and other characters.

Audiobook narration.  Once again narration is provided by Rebecca Soler who did the narration for the other books in the series.  She does a brilliant job of capturing the characters’ voices and I hope she continues for Winter, the final book in the series.

Here’s a sample:

      bk_aren_001819_sample.mp3

What I didn’t like

Very expensive for such a short book.  This book is really a novella – barely 272 pages or 6 hours and 36 minutes of audiobook – and yet is was priced comparatively expensively.  I paid the price but a bit more resentfully than for other books.

No chapter breaks.  The book is written in one long narrative unbroken into chapters.  Now, I am a working woman and I don’t have the luxury of settling down to long chunks of several hours’ reading.  For me, the chapter breaks are valuable to give me a good place to stop.

Not Whispersync for Voice compatible.  In other words, the ebook and the audiobook didn’t sync.  Combined with the lack of chapter breaks, it made switching between ebook and audiobook a very frustrating experience.  If you’re only enjoying the book in one medium this won’t be an issue for you, but I did contribute to my lack of enjoyment.

Less engaging protagonist.  Yes, Levana is a fascinating character and yes, I enjoyed learning about her backstory.  However, it cannot be said that she is immediately likeable or engaging in the way that Cinder, Scarlet and Cress are.

Less humour.  One of the fun parts of The Lunar Chronicles is the banter that is exchanged between our main characters.  This was missing from Fairest – Levana’s Story.  Thinking back, it’s because in this book we spend very little time with characters who actually like and respect each other.  This book contains the first few chapters of Winter, which I listened to, including a scene on the Rampion and I immediately felt “yes, THIS is the Lunar Chronicles I know and love!”

To summarise, while I enjoyed Fairest – Levana’s Story, for me it wasn’t a must-read part of The Lunar Chronicles.  Certainly, it shouldn’t be the first book you read in the series.  It does provide an interesting expansion to the series though.

I gave Fairest – Levana’s Story 3.5 stars out of five.

three-half-stars

Reading Roundup – January 30th 2015

The big news this week is that I have finally managed to track down a Kindle Voyage to purchase – yay!  It’s not available in Canada, and it’s been out of stock on Amazon.com for weeks.  I managed to order one from Best Buy so this weekend I will be making my yearly pilgrimage across the border to pick it up.  It does really annoy me that Amazon always delays selling it to Canada when the UK and German markets get it at the same time as the US.  Anyway, that’s my rant this week.  

I have chosen to pay extra this time and include 3G connectivity.  The main reason I’m doing this is because I read on my Kindle a lot away from home – busses, cafes, the break room at lunch – and I’m missing the fact that it doesn’t then update my reading progress.  This means that Whispersync for Voice doesn’t always update and work the way it should.  I’m hoping that the 3g always on connectivity will help with that.  Yes, I know, I could always connect to a WiFi network but I don’t always bother if I”m just having a quick 10 minute read.  I will of course review the Kindle Voyage 3G when I’ve had the chance to test it out.

Other than that, this week I’ve been reading The Diary of Anne Frank in Dutch and listening to Marissa Meyer’s Fairest – Levana’s Story. Expect a review soon.

Added to my library this week

This week two new releases downloaded to my Kindle.

One was the aforementioned Fairest – Levana’s Story by Marissa Meyer.  This is a prequel to The Lunar Chronicles which I absolutely adore.  I’ve already finished Fairest, so I won’t say too much more.  I’ll save that for my full review.  I picked up Fairest in both Kindle and Audible formats.

The second book was The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon.  This is the second in Shannon’s dystopian fantasy series.  I was intrigued, but not immediately blown away by The Bone Season – see my review – but I was interested enough to want to check out book two.  I ordered The Mime Order in both Kindle and Audible formats.

I also added a couple of pre-orders:

Rogue by Julie Kagawa.  This is the second in her series about dragons masquerading as teens.  I enjoy Kagawa’s writing and found the first in the series, Talon, a fun read.  I look forward to reading the continuation.  I preordered this in Kindle format.  Rogue is available on April 28th.

The second one is Ian Doescher’s William Shakespeare’s The Phantom Menace: Star Wars Part the First.  Doescher’s William Shakespeare and George Lucas mashup series was one of my top reads of 2014.   Actually it would be fairer to say it was a top listen as the series is best enjoyed in audioboook format.  I have my reservations about Phantom Menace – the base material is not nearly as strong as the original trilogy – but I am interested to hear what Doescher and the talented cast of voice actors makes of it.  UPDATE while writing this blog post I discovered that books two and three – William Shakespeare’s Alack! Of the Clones: Star Wars Part the Second and William Shakespeare’s Tragedy of the Sith’s Revenge: Star Wars Part the Third respectively – are also available for preorder.  

Phantom Menace is released April 7th, Alack! of the Clones on July 7th and Tragedy of the Sith’s Revenge on September 8th.

Do any of these interest you?  Let me know in the comments.

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