Tag «audiobook»

SERIESous Tips: 5 Ways to Get Into Audiobooks

Last July, I published a post declaring my love for audiobooks.

But it took me a long time to reach that conclusion. As I mentioned in that post, it took me 7 years to get comfortable listening to audiobooks. That’s a long time!

Audiobooks are a growing tend in the publishing industry. In 2017, audiobook sales increased by nearly 30%! That’s crazy! And I can only imagine that they are doing the same (if not better this year). I’ve noticed that a lot of my favourite authors have been releasing audio versions of their new books months before they published versions hit the shelves.

Which is why I wanted to created this post today. I know that for some, audiobooks are a daunting format to even consider reading. But I’m hoping that with some of the tips below, you are encouraged to at least try and see why audiobooks can make a great addition to your reading habits.

Below you’ll find some of the tips that I have tried and tested over the last 8 years. My previous post focuses more on my journey to find that all important first book but the tips below focus more on the actual reading experience.

1 – Start With Nonfiction

This is a tried and true method for me. Nonfiction novels are a great starting point for a number of reasons. Some of those reasons are listed in more detail for Tip #2 and Tip #3, but this biggest reason is their subject matter.

I found nonfiction audiobooks didn’t require me to listen all the time. Seems counter-intuitive I know, but what I mean is that I was able to teach myself to listen to the book but not berate myself when I missed something important. You can easily discourage yourself when you get angry for missing certain parts and in turn, it can make for a horrible listening environment and experience.

For example, celebrity memoirs are great to listen to because you don’t need to listen to every detail. You can zone in and out if you have to and not miss too much. (And you can always use the rewind button if you need to!) I found by listening to these stories, I got used to focusing on the words and putting things together as well as remembering past topics without having the ability to flip back and check the previous pages.

Consider it audiobook training if you will.

2 – Find a Narrator You’re Familiar With

I read of a lot of celebrity memoirs when I first got into audiobooks because I enjoyed the familiarity of a voice I already knew. It’s especially true with actors because you are used to hearing their voices and deliveries on TV or at the movies. With audiobooks, all you’re doing is removing the visual but your brain can do the rest and you can easily visualize it in your head.

>> Tip: Listen to an audiobook sample before taking the plunge. You can usually tell pretty quickly if you will get annoyed by the narration or not simply by listening to a couple of minutes of the production.

But a lot of actors narrate fiction novels as well. When I made the jump to fiction I first picked up Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line because it is narrated by Veronica herself, Kristen Bell. Best decision EVER! Again, I felt like I was watching an episode of Veronica Mars without the visuals and it just really allowed me to immerse myself in the narrative and world.

>> List: Here’s a list of some classic novels as audiobooks narrated by celebrities!

3 – Start With Shorter Novels

If you’re like me, you might have a shorter attention span. I don’t do so well with books that have more than 300 pages because I often find myself getting bored (I’m looking at you Throne of Glass Series). That isn’t always the case but I do get distracted easily.

After listening to a few audiobooks, I soon learned that I didn’t enjoy books that had a length greater than 11 hours. So when I’m contemplating whether or not to choose the audio verison or the print, I take into account the length of the narration.

But, if you really want to listen to the audiobook you can always…

4 – Bump Up the Delivery Speed

I rarely used this feature before I started listening to fiction novels. But once I started using it, I couldn’t stop!

Bumping up the speed can help in a variety of ways. One is that it shortens the amount of time you have to listen to the novel. This is great for novels that are just that little bit too long for my attention span. For example, when I wasn’t totally enjoying Kingdom of Ashes, I bumped of the speed to get through it a little more quickly because I did want to see the ending.

But I also use the increased speed when the dialogue seems a to be a little stifled. Again, I used the speed initially in Kingdom of Ashes to help smooth out the awkward dialogue of the narrator. I did the same thing in West as well. Both times, it increased my enjoyment of the novel as I wasn’t as annoyed or distracted by the slower delivery.

Now, by default (unless it is for review copy purposes) I listen to all audiobooks on 1.25X to help smooth out the dialogue and help me finish that little bit faster.

>> Tip: If you find that audiobooks are too fast, most audiobook applications have a 0.5X speed to slow things down!

5 –  Listen to a Previously Read Series

Finding that first audiobook to dive into can be daunting. I detail how I came to pick my first fiction novel in my post last year–it took me (at least) an hour to whittle it down to one.

Which is why I think returning to an old favourite is a great start. I’ve never done this per say but it was in my mind when I picked up the Veronica Mars series as audiobooks since I was already familiar with all the characters thanks to the show.

In a similar idea, I ended up picking up the audiobook version of Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? after not being fully invested in the print version. Again, this goes back to Tips #1 & #2 but I just knew the stories Mindy tells would be much more entertaining if I heard her tell them to me in her voice. And they were!

Returning to a world or story you are already familiar with can help you get accustomed to the audio version. You can teach yourself to listen without having to worry that you will unintentionally miss something (and if you do, you already know what it is!). Familiarity in something that is new to you can be a great asset and that’s what a reread provides when it comes to audiobooks.

>> Tip: If you don’t want to pay to try out an audiobook, try you’re local library or an audiobook subscription service. Read my Service Review of Audible here!

Bonus – Listen to an Audiobook Instead of Music

When I first started listening to audiobooks 3 years ago, I started listening to them while running errands and doing chores because I was tired of listening to the music I had on my iPod. Sure, I could listen to the radio but I hate listening to commercials and music streaming services weren’t my thing. Listening to audiobooks was the equivalent of listening to the TV while it played in the other room and I quickly became engrossed in the story.

Which is why I started listening to audiobooks on my drive to work instead of the radio (which I listen to for my entire shift at work). When you drive by yourself, you can’t really spend that time reading or doing other things because you have to concentrate on your surroundings. And given the fact I was losing 2 hours commuting back and forth, I wanted to do something productive and make up for my lost reading time. Audiobooks were the answer.

Of course, there are times when audiobooks instead of music might not be the best idea. For example, I can’t listen to an audiobook and write a post for my blog at the same time (I can’t even listen to music with lyrics when I write). I don’t mind listening to books while doing cardio exercises but for some people they might need the beat of music to keep up their motivation. But the next time you reach for the playlist, why not try out an audiobook instead?


I hope you found some of those tips helpful!

Be patient as you try audiobooks. They are a very different reading experience and it’s something that takes time to get used to–especially if you are hesitant to try or go in thinking you won’t enjoy them. I had to teach myself to listen (it helps when you are driving by yourself and have nothing else to do but listen) while others can dive right in. Don’t be discouraged if that first book doesn’t work. Keep an open mind and try different things (i.e. genres) to see what works for you. 

Here are some recommendations of audiobooks I loved in the last year:

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda When Dimple Met Rishi The Hate U Give Fragile Chaos Rebel Belle (Rebel Belle, #1)

Do you listen to audiobooks? Why or why not?

Any Tips?

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Series Review: Perfected by Kate Jarvik Birch

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Perfected (from Goodreads):

Perfection comes at a price.

As soon as the government passed legislation allowing humans to be genetically engineered and sold as pets, the rich and powerful rushed to own beautiful girls like Ella. Trained from birth to be graceful, demure, and above all, perfect, these “family companions” enter their masters’ homes prepared to live a life of idle luxury.

Ella is happy with her new role as playmate for a congressman’s bubbly young daughter, but she doesn’t expect Penn, the congressman’s handsome and rebellious son. He’s the only person who sees beyond the perfect exterior to the girl within. Falling for him goes against every rule she knows… and the freedom she finds with him is intoxicating.

But when Ella is kidnapped and thrust into the dark underworld lurking beneath her pampered life, she’s faced with an unthinkable choice. Because the only thing more dangerous than staying with Penn’s family is leaving… and if she’s unsuccessful, she’ll face a fate far worse than death.

For fans of Kiera Cass’ Selection series and Lauren DeStefano’s Chemical Garden series, Perfected is a chilling look at what it means to be human, and a stunning celebration of the power of love to set us free, wrapped in a glamorous—and dangerous—bow.

breakdown

Series: Perfected Trilogy
Author: Kate Jarvik Birch
# of Books: 3 (Perfected, Tarnished, Unraveled)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Dystopian
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: July 2014 – April 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook (Perfected); Netgalley–eARC

Tarnished & Unraveled were provided via NetGalley

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I initially had this series as a pass after reading a few mixed reviews. But then I saw the audiobook at my library and decided to give it a second chance. I was intrigued by the concept and I seem to have great success listening to dystopian YA worlds (The Lone City Trilogy for example) so why not?

The Concept / The World:

The idea that girls are bred as pets for wealthy people is an interesting and unique dystopian spin. I’ve read books where girls are bred for surrogates (The Jewel) or girls are sent off to marry older men to repopulate the world (Wither) but nothing of this variety before.

What’s the purpose? Why has society come to this?

Unfortunately, we don’t really explore this too much, especially in Perfected (Book #1). I think we get one line in Perfected that gives us the history of why they started breeding girls (or at least where the idea originated from). So in that respect, I was a little disappointed because I wanted to learn more.

However, I find the sequels do a better job or highlighting the various issues of having “pets”. The focus shifts to questions about what makes someone human and allusions to owning humans (ie slavery). It gets more of a social conscience as the story progresses and that definitely appealed to me as a reader.

The Plot:

I’d have a hard time telling you the exact plot for Perfected  (Book 1) because there isn’t too much of one. The synopsis is a touch misleading because the kidnapping aspects seems like it would be the main plot-point but it isn’t. It’s a crucial moment in the novel but it isn’t the main story.

Perfected is mostly about Ella losing her naivety about the world. She’s been at her “kennel” for 16 years and told the world is a certain way. But as she lives in the real world, her ideology changes and she grows as a person. It isn’t terribly exciting but I did find myself entertained nonetheless. I love good character progression and Ella–though she makes some mistakes–is endearing in her efforts.

Compared to the first novel, the sequels (Tarnished and Unraveled) have much better pacing and are constantly introducing new elements into the plot. I didn’t find myself getting bored or lost in the mundane everyday life of a pet. Ella gets tested and she has some hard decisions to make and I loved watching that journey.

The Characters:

Like I said, Ella is naive but given the circumstances of her life up until the start of Perfected, it makes sense. I think people might forget that a little. She’s the very definition of sheltered and so she has a child-like approach to the world. I found as the story progressed, she evolved and the gears started turning for her a little more. She broke out of that shell and I liked that. Sure, she makes some silly mistakes but I find she is constantly learning and evolving as a character and you can’t ask for much more than that.

I also really liked some of the side characters as well, especially as the series progressed. There’s one character who completely captivated me with her story and I think she provides a nice complement to Ella with her someone jaded personality and approach.

The Romance:

Truthfully, I wasn’t totally sold on the romance between Ella and Penn. It’s one of those situations where they connected over one thing (music) and the rest is developed “off-camera” away from the reader. It’s cute but it just seemed fluffy to me. But it is a good catalyst for driving the plot forward, especially in the sequels. It isn’t a huge focus moving forward so I appreciated that and I even appreciated the sweet moments later on.

My Audiobook Experience for Perfected (#1):

I was only able to read Perfected as an audiobook and I’m glad I did. I think getting Ella’s tone of voice as she narrated her story helped me understand her character a lot more. I could understand her struggles and developed sympathy for her character which allowed me to enjoy the story more. Having that voice in my head as I read the print versions of the sequels helped me establish her character as well.

Series Rating: 4/5

Perfected 3/5 | Tarnished 4/5 | Unraveled 4/5

overall

Despite a slower start in Book #1, I found this series grew exponentially as the sequels evolved. It’s an intriguing concept and world and I think if you take the time to establish everything in the first novel, you’ll appreciate the great sequels.

Read if You Like: light dystopian, romance
Avoid if You: want stronger world building, action

similarreads

 

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Single Sundays: Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Tell Me Three Things (from Goodreads):

Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?

It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son.

In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?

Julie Buxbaum mixes comedy and tragedy, love and loss, pain and elation, in her debut YA novel filled with characters who will come to feel like friends.

breakdown

Author: Julie Buxbaum
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: April 5, 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Like most titles, I don’t know how this one crossed my radar but I know a lot of my friends on Goodreads have read (and enjoyed) it since its release.

I was really excited to read it though because it sounded a lot like Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda–the idea of a secret pen-pal that helps the lead cope with the current situation. I had heard this book was funny and charming, so I was eager to dive into the audiobook.

The Concept:

I definitely think people can relate to this book–and Jessie–in some way or another. She’s going through a lot of changes in her life and she’s just doing the best she can to adapt. I related to her because I’ve totally been that new kid at school, trying to navigate life in a new place. But meeting her new step-family and grieving the loss of her mother are other aspects readers will gravitate towards as well.

The whole concept of Somebody Nobody (SN) reminded me a lot of Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda where the characters interact and bond with someone online. But instead of Jessie dealing with her sexuality like Simon in a place he is familiar with, she’s dealing with grief and living in a whole new city. Both are charming leads that will have you laughing out loud and feeling their pain throughout their respective novels.

The Plot:

I liked that there was a lot going on in this book. You aren’t focused solely on Jessie and her grieving–which is important, don’t get me wrong. I just mean that there are other things happening that add to the overall experience and makes everything that little bit richer. It also gives the book a lighter tone in between those moments of grief.

Also, the mystery of SN was fantastic! It truly keeps you invested and has this addicting quality to it. I couldn’t tell if it was just wishful thinking on my part or if it was obvious who SN was. Either way, it was still an enjoyable aspect of the story.

The Characters:

Like I said before, Jessie is a very relateable character and hilarious. Some of her comments had me laughing out loud for quite a while. I loved her wit and sass–usually I only find that in contemporaries with male leads.

But I also loved her character development. Watching her get that self confidence back was fabulous.

Why this book doesn’t get 5 stars though is because she is also frustrating at times. Her assumptions about who SN was were maddening to listen to. I swear, she would purposely miss things to meet an end. As I noted at the 78% mark:

“Maybe he doesn’t act like he’s SN because he ISN’T SN! I swear, Jessie is a little dense sometimes -.-“

And again at the 97% mark:

“Girl, for the love of all, stop assuming things and just ask or wait for someone to tell you!”

I just wanted to give her a smack and say THINK ABOUT IT! Her biggest fault is her inability to communicate. However, thanks to her character’s story and development, I understood why that would be the case so I cut her some slack. Still didn’t make it easier to listen too at times.

The Romance:

This was super cute and I liked that it wasn’t a huge focus of the book either. I don’t want to give too much away but I think readers will be happy with this.

My Audiobook Experience:

I really enjoyed listening to the audiobook and I think that positively impacted my rating. As a reader, I have a better time understanding wit and sarcasm when it’s spoken instead of simply words on a page. But there is also something about listening to someone pour their heart out. You feel so connected to the character as they tell you their story and I definitely felt that with Jessie.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

This is a YA contemporary that hits all the right notes. It’s charming, funny and sweet–readers will love this! Plus, it has heart waffles on the cover! Waffles!

Read if You Like: realistic YA contemporary, witty heroines
Avoid if You: dislike realistic contemporary fiction

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Single Sundays: Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Challenger Deep (from Goodreads):

Caden Bosch is on a ship that’s headed for the deepest point on Earth: Challenger Deep, the southern part of the Marianas Trench.

Caden Bosch is a brilliant high school student whose friends are starting to notice his odd behavior.

Caden Bosch is designated the ship’s artist in residence, to document the journey with images.

Caden Bosch pretends to join the school track team but spends his days walking for miles, absorbed by the thoughts in his head.

Caden Bosch is split between his allegiance to the captain and the allure of mutiny.

Caden Bosch is torn.

A captivating and powerful novel that lingers long beyond the last page, Challenger Deep is a heartfelt tour de force by one of today’s most admired writers for teens.

breakdown

Author: Neal Shusterman
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Mental Health
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: April 21, 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve never read a Neal Shusterman novel–never even heard of the guy either–but apparently he is “one of today’s most admired writers for teens”. So that both excited and scared me when it came to this novel. Excited me because he is (apparently) known for writing captivating stories; scared me because promotional hype can easily heighten expectations and leave you devastated.

I really had no idea what to expect. I don’t even know how I found out about this book. And when I started listening to the audiobook, I didn’t read the synopsis so I was going in completely blind.

The Concept:

I think if I had read the synopsis before starting the audiobook, I would haven’t felt as lost as I was at the start. See, all I remembered when I started this book was the part about the ship. I missed the rest of the synopsis so I was a little confused as to why were were jumping back and forth between Caden’s life at home and his life on the ship.

This is a book about mental illness and I think it is important to know that going in so you can get into the right mindset. Because honestly, I was confused until I figured that out. That’s when you can start putting things together and figure out what Caden is describing and how he is feeling.

The Plot:

As I said above, the plot shifts a lot at the start and it can be a little overwhelming. But once you start to delve a little deeper, you start to see how everything is working together.

I love stories that have you continuously working it out in your head. Honestly, I would love to study this book in school and dissect every moment of it because it is beautifully crafted. It’s one of those books that you really don’t appreciate until you finish it and see how everything blends together.

The Characters:

I think everyone can relate to Caden’s story in one way or another. Whether you know someone who suffers from a mental health condition or you yourself have one, you’ll connect with this story in some capacity.

This book does a fabulous job of delivering Caden’s thoughts and reasonings in a way readers can understand and experience for themselves. There’s a part where Caden switches to the 2nd person POV and you really get to put yourself in his shoes and see what it feels like to be in his current situation. I’ve never had that connection to a character that I didn’t share some trait with and it was a refreshing experience for me as a reader.

The Romance:

I’ve read a lot of really great YA contemporaries in the last year that focus on mental health but they’ve all been a little hindered by the romance. So I was really happy when this book never took that turn. This story is all about Caden’s journey and it never shies away from that.

My Audiobook Experience:

I’m very glad I read this as an audiobook: the production was fabulous! Every character had their own unique voice and that made it such a treat to listen to. It also forced me to pay attention too (not that I don’t normally pay attention to my audiobooks–I just mean I paid particular attention to remembering the story) so that I could make sure I knew what was happening and why that particular chapter was important to remember later on. It was like listening to a mystery that you only get clues to along the way but you can’t look backwards. I guess what I’m trying to say is that this book captured my full attention and the audiobook experience was very immersive.

My Rating: 5/5

overall

Easily one of the best books I’ve read about mental health in the YA genre. Ever.

Read if You Like: books about mental health, books with allusions
Avoid if You: want a romance, can’t handle shifting narration
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ARC Audio Review: Man Hands (#1) by Sarina Bowen & Tanya Eby

ARC Audio Review: I share my review of an audio release:

Man Hands Series

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Man Hands (from Goodreads):

He puts the “screw” in screwball comedy…

BRYNN

At thirty-four, I’m reeling from a divorce. I don’t want to party or try to move on. I just want to stay home and post a new recipe on my blog: Brynn’s Dips and Balls.

But my friends aren’t having it. Get out there again, they say. It will be fun, they say. I’m still taking a hard pass.

Free designer cocktails, they say. And that’s a game-changer.

Too bad my ex shows up with his new arm candy. That’s when I lose my mind. But when my besties dare me to leap on the first single man I see, they don’t expect me to actually go through with it.

TOM

All I need right now is some peace and quiet while my home renovation TV show is on hiatus. But when a curvy woman in a red wrap dress charges me like she’s a gymnast about to mount my high bar, all I can do is brace myself and catch her. What follows is the hottest experience of my adult life.

I want a repeat, but my flying Cinderella disappears immediately afterward. She doesn’t leave a glass slipper, either—just a pair of panties with chocolate bunnies printed on them.

But I will find her.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fav 2018 Audiobook
Series: Man Hands
Author: Sarina Bowen & Tanya Eby
# of Books: 2 (Man Hands, Man Card)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: I think
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Humour
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: December 2017 – January 2018
Source & Format: AudioBoom–Audiobook (via Audible)

thoughts

Please Note: This is just a review of Book #1, Man Hands!

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Of course the cover caught my attention but the synopsis had me going YES PLEASE! I’m all for humourous books and now that I’ve discovered my love of romance audiobooks, this seemed like a great one to try next!

The Plot:

I really wasn’t sure what the plot was going to be given the synopsis but this book surprised me in the best way. These two find themselves in some crazy situations and hilarity ensues. But it also has its touching moments as well where these two connect on that deeper level I love to see.

The Characters:

It helps that the leads are who they are; this story wouldn’t be the same without them. Brynn is a bit of an oddball but still utterly charming. I loved watching her rebuild her confidence after her divorce and discovering her own self-worth as the story progressed. And Tom is a great complement to her character as he too has to rebuild his confidence in the romance department.

The Romance:

Watching them fight (but never really succeeding) their fabulous connection made for an epic read. Seriously. I’ve never laughed so hard during a sex scene before while still finding the entire thing to be sexy. Their chemistry is palpable and their inner monologue about the other person had me swooning throughout. These two are just the cutest!

My Audiobook Experience:

Like I said before, I had so much fun listening to this book! The narrators totally made it this awesome experience because I honestly don’t think I would have enjoyed the humour as much otherwise. Erin Mallon as Brynn managed to capture this quirky character and bring her to life in a very humourous way. She made me love Brynn instantly as soon as her inner monologue started. And Luke Daniels as Tom is perfection! He sounds exactly like I’d expect a manly TV handy man to sound–like a sexy Ron Swanson (which is something I thought I’d never say) but it totally works for this book.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I can’t wait for the next duo’s story! Their scenes together in Man Hands had me dying for more so I’m very excited to read their story!

Series Rating: 5/5

Man Hands 5/5 | Man Card TBA

overall

I had an absolute BLAST listening to this audiobook! This book was this wicked combination of sweet, sexy and absolutely hilarious. I honestly don’t think I have laughed so much while reading book in a long time.

Read if You Like: quirky humour, sexy reads, contemporary romance
Avoid if You: dislike slapstick comedy, dislike crude language

similarreads

  • Wallbanger by Alice Clayton (Cocktail Series #1)
  • Tangled by Emma Chase (Tangled Series #1)
  • You’ve Got Fail by Celia Ahren
  • The Score by Elle Kennedy (Off Campus Series #2)

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Single Sundays: If You Ask Me (And Of Course You Won’t) by Betty White

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for If You Ask Me (And Of Course You Won’t) (from Goodreads):
It-girl Betty White delivers a hilarious, slyly profound take on love, life, celebrity, and everything in between.

Drawing from a lifetime of lessons learned, seven-time Emmy winner Betty White’s wit and wisdom take center stage as she tackles topics like friendship, romantic love, aging, television, fans, love for animals, and the brave new world of celebrity. If You Ask Me mixes her thoughtful observations with humorous stories from a seven- decade career in Hollywood. Longtime fans and new fans alike will relish Betty’s candid take on everything from her rumored crush on Robert Redford (true) to her beauty regimen (“I have no idea what color my hair is and I never intend to find out”) to the Facebook campaign that helped persuade her to host Saturday Night Live despite her having declined the hosting job three times already.

Featuring all-new material, with a focus on the past fifteen years of her life, If You Ask Me is funny, sweet, and to the point-just like Betty White.

breakdown

Author: Betty White
Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir, Humour
Heat Rating: N/A
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: May 3, 2011
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I enjoy listening to audiobooks when I run errands or go for a walk. I’m a multitasker at heart and so taking time away to be “fit” is hard for me–it’s time I could be using to read something!

So I found this book randomly when searching what audiobooks were currently available for immediate download from my library when I went for a walk one day. I’m a huge Betty White fan. She’s like the perfect hybrid of my two grandmothers and so I associate her with fond feelings. Plus: she’s such a boss! She does so much!

Image result for betty white gifs

The Concept:

I’m not sure how this compares to other Betty novels but this one is basically Betty sharing her personal philosophy on life. She talks (briefly) about everything from having pets to kids to starting your career to life overall.

I’m not normally one to enjoy celebrity novels that solely focus on their life philosophies–they don’t particularly inspire me and I find them boring to read–but there is something about Betty sharing her wisdoms about life that works for me here. I think it’s because I think of her as a wise grandmother and so it doesn’t seem patronizing to me.

The Writing/Narration:

I think this would have been boring to read if Betty wasn’t narrating this. She’s so expressive in her presentation that it is quite enjoyable to read. And she is so humble about everything too! I don’t think this would come across too well if I was just reading the words.

Did it Impact My Life?

Not particularly–just made me love her a little more…

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

If you don’t enjoy memoirs or celebrities sharing their life philosophies, this is probably a pass for you!

Read if You Like: memoirs, Betty White
Avoid if You: dislike life philosophies, want an autobiography

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Blog Tour: Drumline by Stacey Kestwick

Synopsis for Drumline (from Goodreads):

Traditions are important. Especially in the South.
College football. Rivalries. Tailgating. Halftime shows.
Some things just don’t change.

Until Reese Holland shows up with her long legs and no-bullshit attitude to audition for the prestigious all-male Rodner University snare line.

It doesn’t matter how much hazing she has to endure from Laird Bronson, with his narrowed green eyes and arrogant smirk. She wants that damn spot, and she’s more than good enough to earn it.
She expects there to be tension. Even friction.
But not sparks hot enough to burn the entire campus down.

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Author: Stacey Kestwick
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: September 5, 2017
Source & Format: Audiobookworm Promotions–Audiobook via Audible

Add: Goodreads | Buy: AudibleAmazon / iBooks

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Last year, I read about 39 audiobooks but none of them were a straight-up romance novel. The whole idea of a romance novel as an audiobook scared me. I wasn’t sure if I could handle the sexy times being described aloud to me (even though I have no problem reading them on paper). But there are so many great novels out there and I felt like I was really limiting myself by not reading romances as audiobooks.

When I read the description for Drumline, I knew it would be the perfect book to introduce me to the world of audiobook romance reads. The premise was fun and unique and I knew there would be fantastic tension between the leads. I couldn’t wait to start it!

The Plot:

The plot for this story really surprised me in a great way. I thought most of this novel would be about Reese fighting for her spot on the team while fighting her attraction to Laird. But it has a much deeper and more heartfelt storyline than I anticipated.

It takes awhile to uncover this deeper story though. The first half of the novel focuses mostly on the tryouts for the team and the chemistry that is constantly brewing between Reese and Laird. But the second half of the novel is really where these characters shine and the great development of the romance and the characters take place.

The Characters:

I really liked Reese as a heroine. She’s determined to succeed and she has the brains to do it. I loved her independence and drive to earn her spot and never back-down. I admired that about her a lot. She’s a well rounded character.

Laird is also a great character. I wasn’t sure at first what he would be like but he really impressed me as the story progressed and we uncover more about him. He has a kind heart and he too is also very driven and determined to succeed.

All the secondary characters are fabulous as well. Eli stole my heart from the moment we met him and Smith was a great “robin” to Reese’s “batman”.

The Romance:

For the first half of the book, the connection between Reese and Laird is pretty superficial and understandably so. They don’t know each other very well given the circumstances but they have this palpable chemistry whenever they are in the same room together. It isn’t until the second half of the novel that the deeper, emotional connection starts to thrive and their relationship becomes something more than just physical.

My Audiobook Experience:

This was a fantastic choice for my first romance audiobook! The narration by Tracey Marks and Stephen Dexter was great. I loved the accents each character had; that definitely brought the setting of Alabama to life for me as well as reminding me that Reese wasn’t from there. And they definitely captured the chemistry these two had in every scene. I thought they did a great job! I mean, they made me cry which is always a good thing when it comes to performance!

My Rating: 4/5

overall
I laughed, I cried and I loved every minute of this book! It surprised me in the best way with its story and characters.

Read if You Like: new adult romance, heartwarming stories
Avoid if You: don’t like sexy times/language

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  • Spider by Ilsa Madden-Mills
  • Like a Memory by Abbi Glines (Sea Breeze Meets Rosemary Beach Series #2)

 


Stacey Kestwick

USA Today bestseller Stacy Kestwick is a Southern girl who firmly believes mornings should be outlawed. Her perfect day would include puppies, carbohydrates, and lounging on a hammock with a good book. No adulting, cleaning, or bacon allowed.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

 

 

Tracey Marks (Narrator)

Tracy Marks has been acting onstage and onscreen since she was 12, and has been narrating audiobooks for 4 years. She lives in Chicago with her boyfriend and adorable dog, and considers herself very lucky to have an excuse to stay indoors in her toasty little booth during the cold winter months. Bringing heart, heat, vulnerability, and humor to her work, she has a passion for bringing love stories to life.

Narrator Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook

 

Stephen Dexter (Narrator)

Stephen always wanted to be an audiobook narrator. As someone who never liked the whole “reading silently” thing, and has had a lifelong penchant for performing and flair for the dramatic, it was inevitable that he would be doing this for a living. With dozens of titles to his credit, a majority of them steamy romance novels, he has had the pleasure of voicing characters from the Great Plains of Texas, the bayous of Louisiana, the streets of South Boston, the dungeons of a vampire’s castle, the deserts of Mars, and everything in between. It has been an honor to bring such amazing stories by Penny Reid (Marriage Of Inconvenience), Krista & Becca Ritchie (Hothouse Flower), Lex Martin (Shameless), Mia Sheridan (Kyland), and so many more incredibly talented authors, to life. Be sure to check him out on social media, Audible.com, ACX.com, and at www.stephendexter.com. SAG-AFTRA/AEA. Happy listening!

Narrator Links: Website | Facebook

 

Drumline Giveaway: $25 Amazon Gift Card

Open internationally!

Add: Goodreads | Buy: AudibleAmazon / iBooks

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Single Sundays: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for When Dimple Met Rishi (from Goodreads):

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

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Author: Sandhya Menon
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Coming of Age
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 30, 2017
Source & Format: Own–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I don’t think you could escape this book in 2017. It was praised all over the Twitterverse and so I was more than curious. When the opportunity arose for me to get the audiobook copy, I immediately grabbed it!

The Concept:

On the surface, the synopsis gives the idea that this story is almost all about a possible arranged marriage between Dimple and Rishi. And while it does play a huge role in the plot and development, at the core, this is very much a coming of age story.

This is about 2 teenagers trying to find their mark in the world. Like most recent high school grads, they are feeling the pressure of growing up and deciding what they want for the rest of their lives. They are focused on their future careers and trying to reconcile them with cultural and familial expectations.

For some readers, you might not think you can relate to Rishi and Dimple because of their culture. I know I thought that a bit myself. But trying to please your parents and feeling the pressure to find that partner in life are universal tensions (I think) and you will definitely find part of yourself in these two.

The Plot:

This story reads like your typical coming of age story in terms of plot. You have a pretty basic background plot happening and it’s all about the characters and how they are coping. But there is a lot happening with Dimple and Rishi in terms of character growth and you get rather involved in the secondary character lives.

So it has its moments of fun and its moments of reflection. For me though, the pacing was slightly off. I think it might have been because I was listening to the audiobook (it clocks in at 10 hours which is really long for a contemporary novel of this nature I think) and it just seemed excessively long at times. Not that I didn’t enjoy every moment with these two–I did–I guess it just felt dragged out a touch?

The Characters:

I adored these characters and they truly make the novel for me!

Dimple is such a compelling heroine. She’s strong yet fragile at the same time and I definitely saw part of myself in her when it comes to her views on romantic relationships vs career. She’s also hilarious.

And Rishi is just so charming and I immediately fell in love with him. But what was really appealing about his character was that he was the hopeless romantic, instead of Dimple. He was the one who really wanted the relationship and felt it necessary and I usually find that it is the female characters who are cast in that role. It was a refreshing take on a standard gender role I thought.

The Romance:

Simply adorable! These two were a fantastic match and it was fabulous watching them realize that.

I also liked that it viewed (consensual) arranged marriage as a positive thing. The arranged marriage aspect really only plays a role at the start of the novel but it is a factor at play. As the relationship develops they start to undergo some realistic challenges that many young people face in their relationships so again, I think readers will identify with that.

My Audiobook Experience:

I love humour in audiobooks and this one had it in spades! The sarcastic nature was much more apparent in the audio version.

Again, I do think that the length of the audiobook affected my rating a touch (instead of a 5/5) but I still highly recommend the audiobook version!

My Rating: 4/5

overall

This is a coming of age novel that any reader can relate to in some way. It’s funny, charming and will leave you with a smile on your face.

Read if You Like: coming of age, diverse reads
Avoid if You: dislike YA contemporary
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Single Sundays: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for The Hate U Give (from Goodreads):

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

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Author: Angie Thomas
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: February 28, 2017
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

If you haven’t heard of this book, you were living under a rock for most of 2017. One of the most discussed novels I’ve ever seen in the blogosphere and in main stream media, of course I had to check it out.

The Concept:

I’ve never read such a culturally and socially on point novel as this one. I never felt like this book was jumping on a bandwagon to sell a novel or going for shock factor. This book comes from the heart and isn’t afraid to talk about situations that people would rather shy away from. But as this book reminds us, we need to have these discussions if we are ever going to move forward and make this world a better place.

The Plot:

This book made me feel every range of emotions. When my heart wasn’t breaking for Star, it was swooning for her boyfriend or loving her family. I can definitely say that I laughed, cried and felt everything in between. So that in itself made me super invested in the story.

While I enjoyed Star’s story from start to end, when I finished this book I just couldn’t give it 5/5. Without a doubt, the topic and how it is handled is a 5/5 and it wouldn’t be the same story without getting to know Star’s everyday life; but I felt like the balance was a touch off. I felt like some things were dwelt on a little too long (like some of the stuff with her friends) and it just made the pacing a little weird too me.

The Characters:

Like I said, I loved Star as a character. I thought she was hilarious and charming. And she’s also very relateable. She’s growing up and trying to find herself. She feels pressure from her family, her friends, her community and her culture. Who doesn’t feel that growing up? And while it might not be to the same level, I think we can all remember a time where it felt like us against the world.

And her family? LOVE THEM! They were a blast to read about and so heartfelt.

The Romance:

Star’s relationship with Chris is super adorable but it is also super important as well. It’s used a tool to get the various points across when it does make an appearance. However, this isn’t a romance at its core so don’t expect it to be a large focus.

My Audiobook Experience:

I loved this as an audiobook! It’s a little on the longer side for my personal tastes (knowing I could probably read a physical copy in half the time) but I loved listening to Star’s story. Hearing the emotions in her voice throughout her experience really immersed me in the novel. There’s just something to listening to someone’s story as they tell it aloud to you vs written word. I highly recommend the audio version.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

This book definitely deserves all the praise it gets! It’s a well crafted story that is so relevant to society right now. My only criticism is the pacing of the plot at times.

Read if You Like: diverse reads, socially relevant
Avoid if You: truly, truly dislike contemporaries or realistic fiction

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Series Review: Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

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Synopsis for Prisoner of Night and Fog (from Goodreads):

In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her “uncle” Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf’s, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.

Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler. And Gretchen follows his every command.

Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can’t stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can’t help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she’s been taught to believe about Jews.

As Gretchen investigates the very people she’s always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?

From debut author Anne Blankman comes this harrowing and evocative story about an ordinary girl faced with the extraordinary decision to give up everything she’s ever believed . . . and to trust her own heart instead.

breakdown

Series: Prisoner of Night and Fog
Author: Anne Blankman
# of Books: 2 (Prisoner of Night and Fog, Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Suspense, Romance
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Dates: April 2014 – 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This series crossed my radar one day when I was blog-hopping. I’m not sure what blog specifically (this was before I started keeping notes) but I do think this series has been on quite a few over the years.

Anyways, the concept was really what drew me in and that’s why I added it to my 5 Year 5 Book Challenge this year.

The Concept:

I’ve only read a few books set in WWII but what I really liked about this book was that it was set before the war started. When it comes to Hitler, I feel like we often focus on what he did during the war (and rightfully so) but not too much on how we got to that point. It’s a fascinating view point and provides quite a bit of insight on why WWII began. I will admit, I looked up a lot of things on Wikipedia to learn more and see how it this story was woven with history.

But that doesn’t mean this series is an easy read. Prisoner of Night and Fog opens with Gretchen’s brother beating a Jewish man simply for being a Jew and the narrator explains the ideology for his actions. And it’s hard to stomach as a reader–not only because it seems so “normal” but also because you know it is only going to get worse.

The Plot:

A Prisoner of Night and Fog started a little slowly as it established the setting and the circumstances Gretchen finds herself in. But once Gretchen starts her investigation, it really picks up. I love a good conspiracy theory and this one delivered. It gave this story a dangerous edge that kept the tensions high and me eager to see what would happen next.

And those tensions continue to be high in the aftermath of a Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke. This one had a tone of suspense throughout that had me desparately wanting to know what would happen next. Trying to piece together how the current events of this novel lead to the start of WWII was such a refreshingly unique experience for me as a reader.

The Characters:

I thought Gretchen had tremendous growth as a character throughout this series. She transforms from a naive and gullible girl into a crafty and caring woman who can see the bigger picture of what is happening around her. I was definitely rooting for her and grew attached to her as a character.

And the rest of the characters do their jobs flawlessly.

The Romance:

I wasn’t going into this book expecting some epic romance and that definitely isn’t what we get. It does its job by keeping things simple and not distracting from the main plot of the story; rather, it enhances the various tensions in the book. It provides some context for the world Gretchen finds herself in but I never felt like this series was a romance set in dangerous times–it’s a story about dangerous times that features a romance.

My Audiobook Experience:

I loved the audiobook! Heather Wilds is the narrator and she is just fabulous. The accents were perfect, she didn’t sound ridiculous when she did the male voices (one of my biggest peeves) and she conveyed the right tone at all times. And while it was really hard to listen to some of the violence and ideology, I think that just made the book have a bigger impact on me as a reader.

I will say though that a certain character’s name was pronounced one way in the first book and then another in the second. It threw me for a bit but it doesn’t really matter. I just thought it was a little weird.

Series Rating: 4/5

Prisoner of Night and Fog 4/5 | Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke 4/5

overall

If you love historical novels that are lighter on the romance and seamlessly weaves history into its narrative, pick this one up!

Read if You Like: historical novels, WWII settings
Avoid if You: are uncomfortable with violence or discrimination

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