Genre: Cutesy romance

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 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

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins – Review

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins – ReviewLola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
Format: eBook
Pages: 386 pages
Genres: Cutesy romance, Young Adult
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: four-stars

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins is a companion novel to Anna and the French Kiss which I reviewed a while ago.  Lola focusses on a different character who forms part of the same social group as Anna, the protagonist from the first book.  Like Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door is a cutesy YA romance novel with great characters.  It is an easy, fun read and I really enjoyed it.

What I liked

The character.  Lola is an engaging protagonist and I enjoyed reading about her emotional journey.  The challenges she faces were well portrayed and I liked how she overcame them.  The supporting characters were also well developed, particularly Nora, and gave a good foundation for Lola’s romance.  Although I didn’t enjoy the love triangle, it was consistent with Lola’s growing self understanding in the book.

The writing style  Perkins’ writing style is very fresh and immediate and easy to read.  I fairly flew through the book.

Lola’s non traditional family.  It’s fair to say that Lola is growing up in a rather non traditional family.  I appreciated the way Perkins portrayed this as just a variation of contemporary family life, despite the challenges it sometimes caused for Lola.

What I didn’t like

No School of America in Paris.  I really loved the setting for Anna and the French Kiss and was a little disappointed that the setting for Lola and the Boy Next Door is back in the States.  Ah well.

The love triangle.  It was rather too obvious and predictable.  In fairness though, the book was more about Lola’s character development and how it impacted her romantic life than the triangle itself.

I would certainly recommend Lola and the Boy Next Door as a fun, easy, cutsey read.  I will certainly be reading the third in the series, Isla and the Happily Ever After.

Lola and the Boy Next Door earned four stars from me.

 buy from Amazon, Kobo, iTunes, Audible

four-stars

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion – Review

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion – ReviewThe Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Dan O'Grady
Length: 7 hours and 32 minutes
Genres: Cutesy romance
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: five-stars

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion tells the story of the romance between Don, a university professor clearly on the autism spectrum, and Rosie, a young woman he assists in her search for her biological father.  Their relationship is complicated by Don’s insistence that any potential partner prove her compatibility by completing and passing a multi page questionnaire.  Causes for rejection as a potential partner include; being a vegetarian, smoking, being continually late, all of which apply to Rosie.

I adored The Rosie Project – it engaged me in the characters and had me at times giggling at Don’s antics, and generally rooting for them. I listened to it in audiobook format which was excellent.

What I liked

The characters.  I adored them.  Don’s social ineptness was very endearing (although I don’t think I’d want to deal with it personally on a day-to-day basis) and Rosie was such a lot of fun.  I was rooting for them, both in their romantic relationship and their quest to identify Rosie’s biological father thanks to Don’s genetics know-how. Even the minor characters, such as Don’s friends Gene and Claudia, had their own issues which kept them interesting as well.

Don’s character development.  I know this particular aspect did turn off some readers, especially those familiar with the autism spectrum.  For me, personally, I was happy to go along with it.  Social interaction is hard for Don.  He knows he is wired differently.  Given that it is such a struggle for him, he makes a conscious decision to embrace his quirkiness – it’s only through his love for, and interactions with Rosie, that he feels more confident to attempt to fit into the neurotypical world.  it doesn’t always work, but it’s nice to see him really trying.

The writing style.  This is written from Don’s point of view and he has his own imitable style.  Given that’s he’s on the autism spectrum, the writing style leans more towards the scientific report rather than a journal.  For example, he would say “Rosie was 8.5 minutes late.  We left the apartment at 6.24pm, which resulted in a 3 minute delay in arriving for our dinner reservation.”   The humour of the  novel is based on the assumption that the reader/listener is more socially adept than Don.  The social disasters in which Don ends up are all obvious to the reader a considerable time before poor Don realises that he has put his foot in it once again.

The narration.  The Rosie project is set in Australia with Australian characters.  It makes sense, therefore, that it was narrated by an Australian, Dan Grady.  I am used to narrators speaking with US or British accents, so I found this was a welcome change and kept my interest in the book.  At one point, Don and Rosie take a trip to the US and Grady uses American accents for the characters they meet there.

I loved The Rosie Project and gave it five stars out of five – my first five star review in quite some time.

 buy from Amazon, Kobo, iTunes, Audible

five-stars

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins – Review

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins – ReviewAnna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Format: eBook
Pages: 400 pages
Genres: Cutesy romance, New Adult
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: four-stars

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins is the first in a loose trilogy of contemporary, cutesy young adult romance novels.  It is followed by Lola and the Boy Next Door and Isla and the Happily Ever After.  It tells the story of Anna Oliphant who is spending a year studying in Paris at the fictional School of America in Paris.  She makes friends and has a romance with Etienne St Claire a young Londoner also studying at the school.

What I liked

The setting.  I adored the setting.  The school sounded fantastic and I loved Anna’s and Etienne’s strolls through Paris.  I’ve only spent a couple of days in Paris myself, and I would have liked to have spent more. Perkins really brought out the sense of the city in her writing.

The character development.  I loved seeing how Anna grew in self confidence during her stay in Paris.  The Anna at the end is a very different person from the one who spent her first evening in the school crying into her pillow with homesickness.  I also felt that the development was earned.  Her experiences in Paris and the friends she makes there allow for such a progression to be possible.

The cutesy romance moments.  These were squealably cute.

What I didn’t like

The romantic development itself.  I know that is kind of contrary to my last comment, but let me explain.  I loved the cute date moments Anna and Etienne spent together, but I felt that they were their own worst enemies in terms of their romance.  All their problems came from their own actions and lack of communication.  I felt if they’d sat down at the beginning and really communicated, there would have been nothing coming between them, which really frustrated me.  All too often I wanted to bang their heads together.

I did enjoy Anna and the French Kiss, but I didn’t adore it as much as many reviewers seem to have done.  I will read the other two in the series at some point, though not immediately.

I gave Anna and the French Kiss four stars out of five.

 buy from Amazon, Kobo, iTunes, Audible

four-stars
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers