Tag «audiobook»

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

similarreads

  • Matchmaker’s Playbook by Rachel Van Dyken (Wingmen Inc Series #1)
  • 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

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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:

booksynopsis

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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Blog Tour: Fragile Chaos by Amber R Duell

Synopsis for Fragile Chaos (from Goodreads):

A god of war seeking restoration. An unwilling sacrificial bride. Betrayal that could destroy them both.

Every fiber of my being is woven from the rage of mortals.

Theodric, the young God of War, has a talent for inciting conflict and bloodshed. After being stripped of his powers by his older brother, King of Gods, he sets out to instigate a mortal war to prove himself worthy of being restored to power.

I loved Kisk once; it was my home… But that was before. This is now.

Sixteen-year-old Cassia, like many in the modern era, believes gods and goddesses to be just a myth. Enemy to her country and an orphan of the war, she has no time for fairy tales. That’s until religious zealots from Theo’s sect offer her up as a sacrifice.

Can Cassia and Theo end the mortal war and return balance to the earth and heavens? Or, will their game of fate lead down a path of destruction, betrayal, and romance neither of them saw coming?

breakdown

Author: Amber R Duell
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Mythology, Fantasy
Heat Rating: warm **suggestive content**
Point of View: First Person, Alternate
Publication Date: July 10 2017
Source & Format: Audiobookworm Productions–Audiobook

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon // Audible // Kobo

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love stories that involve mythology. Greek, Roman, Norse, or completely original, I love the whole idea of it! So when I read the synopsis for this (after seeing that gorgeous cover of course), I just had to listen to this audiobook!

The Concept / The World:

This is a completely new world in terms of mythology. That can be a little daunting since there’s a lot to keep straight (like who Theo’s siblings are and what they are the gods/goddesses of as well as the countries at war) however, I found it all pretty straight-forward, even as an audiobook where you have to listen (I’m a visual learner so I usually do better by seeing the words).

It’s an intricate world filled with everything you enjoy about mythology stories. You’ve got sacrifices; god/goddess siblings fighting and backstabbing; and battles. But what’s really cool is how it’s set in a modern world. It’s an interesting weaving of old and new and I was captivated by it.

>>Fun Fact: Amber R Duell has blog posts dedicated to the history of the world and more if you love immersing yourself in the world beyond the book.

The Plot:

I find it really hard to pinpoint the plot of this story–and I say that in a good way. I like when a lot of things are happening in a story and that is definitely the case here.

While I felt like the romance was a big focus, you still have the politics of the world and the gods/goddess at play. Everyone is playing a different game simultaneously and I found that to be super exciting as a reader. I just had to know what was going to happen next and what the reactions would be.

The Characters:

I really liked Cassia and Theo as leads. What I liked about Cassia is that she seems very genuine and real. Her reactions to things were exactly what I would feel if I was in her situation. She’s got a good head on her shoulders and she tries her best to see the bigger picture before making a decision. Her personality pairs nicely with Theo’s.

Theo by far has the best character growth in this novel…as he should. He has to come to grips with a lot of things and I liked watching him work everything out. As you would expect, being the God of War means he can have some hot-headed moments but he is still charming and sincere.

The rest of the cast is great too. I would love to explore the realm further and meet some of the other gods and goddesses and get there stories. (And it sounds like one character might be getting a novella so yay!)

The Romance:

This was definitely a highlight for me in the sense that these two had fantastic chemistry from the start. They had these great moments together where everything was building up and just waiting to explode. I loved their scenes together.

However, I wish they talked a little more to each other. I get that everything is amplified given the circumstances but I just wanted that emotional connection highlighted a little more for the romantic in me.

My Audiobook Experience:

I didn’t realize that I was listening to this book at 1.25x–oops! That explains why everyone seemed to be talking so fast…

Regardless, the audiobook production is great! Probably one of the best I’ve listened to lately. I think Bradley Pittman and Jamie Lee-Lewis captured the characters brilliantly. Although, I did find it slightly off-putting that some of the characters had different accents depending on the narrator. Jamie gave Goran an almost Australian accent while Bradley gave him a monotone voice and I found that a little bit confusing when we were switching POVs.

What I really enjoyed about the audiobook though was the sound effects they used in the background. I found they immersed me into the story and brought it to life in way that a straight reading wouldn’t be able to do.

My Rating: 4/5

overall
This story reminded my why I love books with mythology! From the passionate romances to the always plotting characters, there’s a lot to like about Fragile Chaos and the world it presents.

Read if You Like: mythology, romance
Avoid if You: dislike mythology, dislike books with complex worlds

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Amber R Duell (Author)

Amber R. Duell was born and raised in a small town in Central New York. While it will always be home, she’s spent the last six years living in Germany and Maine as a military wife where the next step is always an adventure.

When Amber isn’t writing, she’s wrangling her two young sons. She is a lover of history, a fan of snowboarding, and a travel enthusiast. In her downtime, she can be found curling up with a good book and a cat or two.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

Bradley Pittman (Narrator)

Bradley Pittman is a producer and freelance musician living and working in Atlanta. He received a bachelor’s degree in audio production from Georgia State University in 2016. Though he most commonly works on musical projects, he began self-producing audiobook chapters in 2015 as a way to unite his love of studio production with his love of literature.

 

Jamie-Lee Lewis (Narrator)

Jamie-Lee Lewis, aka Jaylew, hails from the island of Jamaica. Since a small child, she’s always had a hyper imagination. She enjoys writing and telling stories, singing and composing songs, entertaining and edifying, playing different characters as well as creating them through drawings, and finding the beauty and fun in everything she does. She is currently a professional and passionate Youtuber.

Fragile Chaos Giveaway: $5 Amazon Gift Card/eBook OR Headphones/Mug/Tea

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Series Review: Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

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 Leviathan (from Goodreads):

Prince Aleksander, would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battletorn war machine and a loyal crew of men.

Deryn Sharp is a commoner, disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She’s a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.

With World War I brewing, Alek and Deryn’s paths cross in the most unexpected way…taking them on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure that will change both their lives forever.

breakdown

Series: Leviathan Trilogy
Author: Scott Westerfeld
# of Books: 3 (Leviathan, Behemoth, Goliath)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Steampunk, Science Fiction, Alternate History
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: October 2009 – January 2011
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I adore anything Steampunk so I marked Leviathan on my TBR years ago but never got around to it. Like most “I’ve been meaning to read this forever” novels I’ve read this year, I started this series because I needed a new audiobook to listen to for my commute to work. This series was available and so I instantly downloaded it and dove in.

I was looking forward to learning about the setting (I’ve never read a Steampunk that takes place during WWI before) and I wanted a fast-paced adventure to keep my attention.

The Concept / The World:

I’ve totally fallen in love with this world in every aspect. It’s so rich and well researched that you can’t help but be enthralled by it.

One of my favourite aspects of steampunk is that no world is the same as another and I’ve never encountered a world like this. The scientist in me, particularly one who studied biological science, adores the blend of biology and mechanics in this trilogy. Most steampunk novels focus on the mechanical revolution and inventions so it was refreshing to see the biological evolution front and center. And using that clash to amp up the danger of the world was brilliant.

But I also liked the alternate history aspect as well. Parts of this story are rooted in actual historical events but other moments are elaborated to allow the story to go down a different path. The afterwards in each novel where Westerfeld explains how he crafted the world is just plain awesome.

The Plot:

I found Leviathan slower than I anticipated. I blame the synopsis a bit on this one because it gave me the impression that Alek and Deryn would meet sooner rather than later and have an adventure together. But the fact of the matter is that they have two completely separate storylines for half of the novel and I really craved that interaction. I wanted more high impact action and to see the chemistry of the characters interacting. So that first half was a little tougher for me to get through but I enjoyed watching the world grow and develop in the mean time.

Behemoth was more what I thought Leviathan was going to be. It always seemed to be moving and there was great character development and moments.

Which in turn, makes Goliath seem a little slower in comparison but it has some much needed character resolution.

The Characters:

It’s easy to love Deryn as a character I think.  Her spirit, drive and loyalty are things that make a great heroine in an adventure novel. Her motto is definitely: anything a boy can do, I can do better. Gotta love that.

Alek has tremendous growth throughout the series. He really embraces everything that is thrown his way and that was a lot of fun to watch.

The Romance:

The definition of slow burn I think. I almost wonder though if I would have appreciated it more if the relationship was kept as platonic? Regardless, it plays such a small role here that it shouldn’t be your main motivation for reading this.

My Audiobook Experience:

This was read by Alan Cumming who is an actor I’m very familiar with and I have to say he did a great job. The accents were great and he did the female voices very well. It was a fabulous performance and I highly recommend the audiobook.

concSLOW

Series Rating: 3/5

Leviathan 3.5/5 | Behemoth 3/5 | Goliath 3/5

overall

This book had a bit of a younger feel to it so I might have enjoyed it more 5 years ago but it’s cleverly crafted and impressive for readers of any age!

Read if You Like: alternate histories, WWI setting, steampunk
Avoid if You: dislike adventure
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Single Sundays: The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

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 Rest of Us Just Live Here (from Goodreads):

What if you aren’t the Chosen One?

The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?

What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.

Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.

Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions…

breakdown

Author: Patrick Ness
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Heat Rating: warm **suggestive content**
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: August 27, 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Patrick Ness is one of those authors bloggers RAVE about. I don’t think I’ve heard a negative thing about his works. So I’ve been keeping my eye out for his novels at my library.

I didn’t pick The Rest of Us Just Live Here for any particular reason other than the fact that the audiobook was available and the title grabbed my attention. It didn’t hurt that I saw Patrick’s name on it. When I read the premise, I absolutely loved the idea and couldn’t wait to dive in and see what all the Patrick Ness hype is about.

The Concept:

I’ll admit that I didn’t realize the start of each chapter was a summary of the “Chosen One”‘s story until I was a few chapters in. I blame the audiobook because I couldn’t visually see the change in narration. Anyways, I absolutely loved the idea that Mikey and co. are just living their mundane lives while this crazy paranormal stuff happens to their town.

The satire of YA paranormal reads was fantastically on point. The story basically pokes fun at every trope YA non-contemporary reads have and I couldn’t get enough. Especially as someone who feels as though she has outgrown the YA paranormal scene, I enjoyed the jabs.

The Plot:

The irony of this story is that Mikey has the typical YA contemporary story: an unrequited love, a sticky family life and the pressures of growing up. Mikey’s situation isn’t anything new. Other than the fact that he is the bystander to the situation at hand and the sidekick to his demi-god BFF, Jared, it’s your typical coming of age story and that’s not overly exciting–but I guess that’s the point.

The Characters:

Mikey is the sole reason this book is not a 5/5 or even a 4/5. He wasn’t very likeable to me. Sure, he’s a great brother to his sisters and I can sympathize with his family situation. He has his “flaws” and he is pretty diverse (as is the rest of the cast) and that’s great, but he is just so self-centered to me! I get that he was under various pressures (family life, romance, the world blowing up) but I wish he was just more aware of what was going on around him (and that does get brought up in the story as well).

Again, I don’t know if this is because I was listening to the audiobook and (what sounded like) Mikey’s perpetual whining just got to me.

The Romance:

Meh. This played a slightly bigger role than I expected (Mikey pines after Henna for 85% of the book–and he doesn’t let you forget it) but I wasn’t really shipping it either.

The Audiobook:

Despite making me confused about the “indie kid” main storyline (aka the paranormal story), I really did enjoy the audiobook. As is so often the case, the humour and sarcasm was much more apparent to me as I listened to the novel. It’s definitely entertaining as an audiobook.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

A fantastic concept but I wanted more from the execution and lead.

Read if You Like: diverse reads, male POV YA
Avoid if You: want that “OMG Patrick Ness” read–I think it’s elsewhere

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Single Sundays: The Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

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 Symptoms of Being Human (from Goodreads):

The first thing you’re going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?

Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. The thing is…Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in uber-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley’s so-called “normal” life.

On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it’s REALLY like to be a gender fluid teenager. But just as Riley’s starting to settle in at school—even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast—the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley’s real identity, threatening exposure. Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created—a lifeline, new friends, a cause to believe in—or stand up, come out, and risk everything.

breakdown

Author: Jeff Garvin
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary, GLBT
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: February 2, 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This was one of the many must read contemporaries that seemed to be everywhere when it came out. I’m not a big YA contemporary fan but I like diverse stories I wouldn’t normally encounter in my usual reads.

The Concept:

I will be the first admit I don’t know much about what it means to be gender fluid. I’m not even sure if I knew what it was before I read the synopsis for this book. So I was looking forward to learning more and I definitely did. Not only does Riley explain what it means to identify as gender fluid but Riley also does a great job of showing what it means to actively live as a gender fluid teen.

It was quite the change for me to read about this particular story because Riley struggles with not being associated with a single gender whereas in None of the Above, the story I just finished the day before about an intersex teen, Kristin wants nothing more than to be seen as a girl. The contrasts and similarities between the two books would be the subject of a great essay but I’ll just say I had to leave one mindset and dive into another. Both books offer fascinating insights into the perception of gender in society.

The Plot:

I hate being one of those reviewers who constantly compares books to each other but I have to bring up None of the Above one more time. You can read my review of None of the Above here but one of my biggest criticisms of it was the lack of subplot besides the lead’s gender identity crisis. Thankfully, SOBH has a lot more going on than just Riley’s struggle to be “out”.

You have the political aspirations and influence of Riley’s dad’s career; you have Riley’s interest in a particular girl; Riley’s struggles at school; the blog and then the overall pressures of society to conform to a particular gender. Needless to say, this book is always moving forward with one plot aspect or another.

The Characters:

I liked Riley as a lead but I wouldn’t say I loved Riley as much as I have with other characters. I really did feel for Riley, no doubt about that. It’s easy to see why Riley would feel the pressure to hide who Riley really is and that broke my heart.

One of my favourite aspects of this novel is the fact that we don’t know whether or not Riley was born a male or a female. I think it further drives the point that society feels the need to confine people to a label because I will be the first to say I kept waiting to find out what gender Riley’s parents saw Riley as. But at the same time, what does it matter? At the end of the day Riley is a person and who cares if Riley wears a dress one day and a suit the next? It doesn’t change who Riley is as a person and I’m forever grateful that Riley reminded me of that in this book.

The Romance:

I almost wonder if I would have enjoyed this story more without the romance. It didn’t negatively impact the story but I’m not even sure if it added all that much to it either. Yes, it does add a layer to Riley’s development as a character but I think Riley would have reached that level without it.

The Audiobook Experience:

I really enjoyed this as an audiobook. I think I would have missed some of the humour without having it enunciated to me just because I can be dense like that when it comes to writing. But it really pulled a lot of the emotions out of me so bravo!

My Rating: 4/5

overall

If you like books that will make you laugh, cry and just make you re-evaluate how you view the world and others, this is a great one.

Read if You Like: YA contemporary, diverse reads
Avoid if You: dislike contemporary

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Fresh Fridays: Empress of a Thousand Skies (#1) by Rhoda Belleza

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

Empress of a Thousand Skies Series

Other books in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Empress of a Thousand Skies (from Goodreads):

Crown Princess Rhiannon Ta’an wants vengeance.

The only surviving heir to an ancient Kalusian dynasty, Rhee has spent her life training to destroy the people who killed her family. Now, on the eve of her coronation, the time has finally come for Rhee to claim her throne – and her revenge.

Alyosha is a Wraetan who has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a DroneVision show. Despite his popularity, Aly struggles with anti-Wraetan prejudices and the pressure of being perfect in the public eye.

Their paths collide with one brutal act of violence: Rhee is attacked, barely escaping with her life. Aly is blamed for her presumed murder.

The princess and her accused killer are forced to go into hiding – even as a war between planets is waged in Rhee’s name. But soon, Rhee and Aly discover that the assassination attempt is just one part of a sinister plot. Bound together by an evil that only they can stop, the two fugitives must join forces to save the galaxy.

breakdown

Series: Empress of a Thousand Skies
Author: Rhoda Belleza
# of Books: 2 (Empress of a Thousand Skies, Blood of a Thousand Stars)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Blood a A Thousand Skies will be published February 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Adventure
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: February 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect with this novel. I marked it on my wishlist at my local library simply because I love the cover. The synopsis was intriguing enough but it seems like every plot in a science fiction novel lately has had a similar premise (I get why though: race and class divides are a part of the science fiction backbone so of course there are similarities) so I wasn’t overly eager to read this. Add to that the somewhat mixed reviews on Goodreads and I really wasn’t sure what to expect.

Note on Empress of a Thousand Skies Synopsis:

What I’m about to say may be considered by some to be a spoiler but I actually think it is better labeled as a warning because it is important to know what you are getting into and what type of story to prepare yourself for. So read this section if you want a little guidance for the type of story you are picking up or avoid and continue down to the next section.

Their paths collide with one brutal act of violence: Rhee is attacked, barely escaping with her life. Aly is blamed for her presumed murder.

The princess and her accused killer are forced to go into hiding

When you read those lines from the synopsis, you think the plot will be Rhee and her accused killer meeting and proceeding to save the world together. The key word there being “together”, implying that they actually get introduced to each other. That is not the case.

The best way to describe this story is as two parallel stories that contribute to the overall plot of the world. Maybe there is some suspense in wondering if they will ever meet but for me, knowing that they weren’t going to meet helped me starve off some of the disappointment of discovering that they won’t…yet.

What I Liked:

–The Plot is Always Moving–

I don’t like stagnant plot lines and this one never felt like it got stuck or dwelled too long on one thing or another. I think it helps that we get both Aly and Rhee’s POVs too since you get that back and forth plot development. New secrets and alliances are constantly being revealed so something is always grabbing your attention. It helps to build the story and subsequently the finale.

–Not Afraid to Take Risks–

Not that you need to kill off characters to keep a story going but I like the suspense that happens when you aren’t sure who is safe and who isn’t. The action scenes we get here–while sometimes few and far between–had me paying attention because who knows what could happen next!

What I Didn’t Like:

–Somewhat Predictable–

While there were definitely plot twists that surprised me, I think the one big twist in this novel was super obvious. So that dampened the reading experience a touch but I still found myself interested in what would happen next.

–Slightly Lackluster Ending–

Because of the obvious plot twist, the ending was definitely lackluster in my opinion. I really needed something big to happen to “wow” me to take my experience to the next level.

My Audiobook Experience:

For a third person POV narration, I had a very easy time following what was happening. The narrator kept my attention and she was really expressive which helps. I think I would have liked a male narrator to do Aly’s parts simply to remind me when I stopped mid-chapter who the POV was following. Otherwise, it was a solid narration.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

While I wasn’t wowed with this novel, I did enjoy it. I’m curious to see what will happen in the finale and how everything weaves together.

My Rating: 3/5

Empress of a Thousand Skies 3/5 | Blood of a Thousand Stars TBP

overall

While not a standout novel in its genre, this series will definitely keep readers interest throughout.

Read if You Like: science fiction, world-building
Avoid if You: dislike slower stories, want more romance

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Blog Tour: West (History Interrupted #1) by Lizzy Ford

Synopsis for West (from Goodreads):

If you could change history, would you?

College graduate Josephine “Josie” Jackson answers ‘yes’ to the question on a survey while visiting an Old West tourist trap. The next morning, she wakes up in Indian Territory in the 1840s, where she’s given a mission to complete before she can return to her time: to reset history by finding and stopping the man responsible for a horrific massacre.

It seems easy enough, until she discovers that three other women have been sent back to the same time period. When Josie uncovers what happened to them, she realizes the chances of her getting out of the past alive are not good.

To survive, she’ll have to trust the very man she’s there to stop, someone who has every reason to distrust her and only one reason to help her – to prove he’s not the monster she claims he’ll become.

Other books in the series:
book3

breakdown

Series: History Interupted
Author: Lizzy Ford
# of Books: 3 (West, East, North)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?:  Unsure
Genre: New Adult, Time Travel, Romance, Adventure, Historical
Heat Rating: warm **suggestive content**
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: October 2014 – July 2017
Source & Format: Audiobookworm Productions–Audiobook

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon | Audible

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This year, now that I commute nearly 2 hours (roundtrip) to work, I’ve fully jumped on the bandwagon for audiobooks. I love them! It’s great feeling like I’m accomplishing something during my drive besides getting to work. So I’m really excited to be doing my first audiobook blog tour!

I was drawn to West for a number of reasons but the main two were (1) time travel and (2) new adult genre! While I mostly read New Adult Contemporary Romances, I’m always looking out for other non-contemporary NA reads. And time travel?! One of my favourites to explore because I love the delicious tension that it brings.

What I Liked:

–The Suspense–

There are a lot of things at play in this story and I love how everything weaves together. You’ve got Josie’s mission to stop a massacre; the rivals trying to stop her; the mystery of the other time travelling girls; Josie navigating the life she has taken over and her learning why she was the one picked.

It may seems like a lot but this novel does a great job of balancing out everything, taking it one step at a time. The way it builds kept my full attention. I loved trying to decipher what was happening and why. And not knowing which characters I could trust and not trust adds this layer of suspense that had me wanting to delve deeper into the story.

–New Adult Based–

Nearly all the time travel novels I’ve read over the years have been YA based–and there is nothing wrong with that! –but it’s nice to read about a heroine closer to my own age. Josie is that touch more mature and not as malleable as a heroine you is a few years younger. 

What I Disliked:

–More Romance Focused than Anticipated–

This isn’t to say that I had a problem with the romance itself. It’s a touch more insta-connection than I like personally but that goes with the time travel territory (ie, I expected it). And I did get the allure of the main love interest and why Josie is drawn to him. So that isn’t what I’m talking about herr.

What I’m getting at is that a majority of the novel seemed to be geared more towards this budding relationship than the various issues at hand. The romance is weaved nicely throughout the other mysteries but I felt like I listened more to descriptions of the Sheriff’s abs than I anticipated when I picked this novel up.

My Audiobook Experience:

I’ll admit, this started a little rough me. I found the delivery to be a little slow and perhaps a little choppy in turn. It might have also been due to the setting of the novel (ie everyone has a slower drawl to their speech). But once I bumped up the speed to 1.25X, everything went a lot smoother. Everything just flowed that little bit better.

Lillian does a good job of making each character have a distinct voice and she does a great job in particular with the male voices–it was never awkward which I find can be when you have a lone female narrator. She gives all the characters from that time period the appropriate accent which helps set the tone and setting for the novel in a way I probably wouldn’t have had if I had just picked up the novel.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

WOW! A lot of stuff went down in the last few chapters and I have so many unanswered questions that I really need answers to!

concSLOW

My Rating: 3.5/5

West 3.5/5 | East TBA| North TBA

overall
If you love a time travelling novel that keeps you guessing until the end, this one’s for you!

Read if You Like: time travelling adventures, romance
Avoid if You: dislike romance, dislike new adult
similarreads

  • Once Every Never by Lesley Livingston (Never Trilogy #1)
  • A Million Pieces of You by Claudia Gray (Firebird Trilogy #1)


Lizzy Ford (Author)

I breathe stories. I dream them. If it were possible, I’d eat them, too. (I’m pretty sure they’d taste like cotton candy.) I can’t escape them – they’re everywhere! Which is why I write! I was born to bring the crazy worlds and people in my mind to life, and I love sharing them with as many people as I can.

I’m also the bestselling, award winning, internationally acclaimed author of over sixty titles and counting. I write speculative fiction in multiple subgenres of romance and fantasy, contemporary fiction, books for both teens and adults, and just about anything else I feel like writing. If I can imagine it, I can write it!

I live in the desert of southern Arizona with a pack of spoiled dogs and Tubbs, the Godfather cat who rules them all.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

Lillian Yves (Narrator)

Lillian Yves grew up in Oklahoma, went to school in NYC and now lives in Southern California. She considers herself from the East, West and somewhere in the middle. She is a graduate of The American Musical and Dramatic Academy in NYC for Musical Theater. She adores acting and performing so much that she teaches an after school program for the local school system. She got her start working in audio books when she narrated her own novel, Yonder- A Southern Haunting and shortly after the release of Yonder she was contacted by Warren Adler (The War of the Roses) to narrate two novels for him and after entering the world of narration, she has never looked back. She performs on most weekends and does play readings through out the Los Angeles area. Her main hobbies include her husband and her cats. She loves to hear from listeners.

Narrator Links: Facebook

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon | Audible

Book Tour Organised by:

Audiobookworm Promotions

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