Posts Categorized: Audiobooks

Audiobook Review – Texts from Jane Eyre: And Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters by Mallory Ortberg

May 26, 2016 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2016 1 Comment

Audiobook Review – Texts from Jane Eyre: And Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters by Mallory OrtbergTexts from Jane Eyre: And Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters by Mallory Ortberg
Narrator: Zach Villa, Amy Landon
Published by Tantor Audio on January 21st 2015
Length: 2 hrs and 22 mins
Genres: Books-About-Books, Funny-ha-ha
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
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four-stars

Mallory Ortberg, co-creator of the cult-favorite website The Toast, presents this whimsical collection of hysterical text conversations from your favorite literary characters.

Everyone knows that if Scarlett O'Hara had an unlimited text-and-data plan, she'd constantly try to tempt Ashley away from Melanie with suggestive messages. If Mr. Rochester could text Jane Eyre, his ardent missives would obviously be in all-caps. And Daisy Buchanan would not only text while driving, she'd text you to pick her up after she totaled her car.

Based on the popular Web feature, Texts from Jane Eyre is a witty, irreverent mash-up that brings the characters from your favorite books into the 21st century.

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Texts From Jane Eyre: the re-imagined conversations between literary characters if they all carried a smartphone. Sounds hilarious, but I admittedly didn’t have much interest in this initially because I feared far too much of this would go right over my head considering I’m quite ignorant of the vast majority of “classics”. I listened to a 60 second clip of this audiobook though and I was already cracking up so I decided to give this one a shot regardless. Texts From Jane Eyre goes beyond just Jane Eyre, portraying the likes of Odysseys and Circe, Edgar Allan Poe, Peter Pan, Harry Potter, and even the broody Achilles who contemplates the possibility of going home and being a farmer.

As I mentioned, the majority of these stories did in fact go right over my head because like hell I’m attempting to read Atlas Shrugged. Or Moby Dick for that matter. I haven’t given up hope that I may actually conquer Gone with the Wind though. Despite my occasional confusion, the combined narration of Amy Landon and Zach Villa still managed to make this a vastly entertaining couple of hours (the audiobook is a mere 2h 22m long). The various different accents they implemented made this feel at times like a full cast narration. I downloaded the eBook as well in order to capture screen shots and I must say that while the passages were funny, having this read to you was an altogether different (and better) experience. A brief visit to sparknotes.com to get the gist of the classics did prove to be helpful if you wish to take the time to become quickly acquainted with the lesser known characters. As for the ones I did know that required no introduction, such as Sherlock, they were so hilariously and accurately depicted that I found myself rewinding and re-listening because I was often laughing too hard to hear the whole passage.

Face cocaine. lol Other favorites were Ron telling Hermione about the magic “credit cards” he signed up for (Harry Potter), Peeta’s frosting emergency (Hunger Games), and the hilarious harassment via texting from Mrs. Danvers (Rebecca).

Suffice it to say, I thoroughly enjoyed this one and highly recommend the audio edition (listen to a clip below!). Mallory Ortberg successfully added a modern flair and humor to literature’s most treasured characters, bringing them to life once again and reminding us what made them memorable in the first place.

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Audiobook Review – The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

March 17, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2016 4 Comments

Audiobook Review – The Girl on the Train by Paula HawkinsThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Narrator: Clare Corbett, Louise Brealey, India Fisher
Published by Penguin Audio on January 13th 2015
Length: 10 hours and 59 minutes
Genres: Mystery
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
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four-stars

A debut psychological thriller that will forever change the way you look at other people’s lives.

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut.

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“They’re what I lost, they’re everything I want to be.”

Rachel Watson takes the train each day to London and each day she is reminded of her failed marriage. The train rides past her old house she shared with her ex-husband Tom, where him and his new wife Anna live with their new baby. A few doors door from her old house are a couple that Rachel has developed a mild fascination with, whom she names Jess and Jason. They’re the type of couple that her and Tom never were, seemingly perfect; at least they appear that way from the window of the train. Until the day that Rachel witnesses something that changes her whole perception of them and subsequently plunges her into a dreadful mystery.

“There’s something comforting about the sight of strangers safe at home.”

If you’re like me, you tend to stay far from the massively hyped stuff, or at least you put it on the back burner until it has died down a bit. The Girl on the Train came out early last year and in the aftermath has become the go-to comparison (in addition to Gone Girl) for any and all mystery novels being released these days. But honestly? This was superb. There’s nothing I love more than a book with an unreliable narrator and this story has three. Rachel is the bitter ex-wife with a nasty drinking problem who is prone to blacking out and having zero recollection of anything that occurred. Anna is the new wife and is blinded by her hatred of Rachel for her constant interference in her and Tom’s life. Megan is the unhappy housewife who is shrouded completely by her mysterious past. This story is far from your typical family drama mystery and is chock full of secret after secret that constantly kept me guessing.

“I am no longer just a girl on the train, going back and forth without point or purpose.”

The Girl on the Train is at first slightly complex and perplexing, however, once it gets its hooks in you the intriguing mystery possesses a palpable sense of dread that will keep you riveted until the shocking end.

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Audiobook Review – Thanks for the Trouble by Tommy Wallach

March 10, 2016 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2016, YA 1 Comment

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Audiobook Review – Thanks for the Trouble by Tommy WallachThanks for the Trouble by Tommy Wallach
Narrator: Francisco Pryor Garat
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on February 23rd 2016
Length: 6 hours and 24 minutes
Genres: Contemporary
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
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Also by this author: We All Looked Up, Strange Fire

four-stars

Tommy Wallach, the New York Times bestselling author of the “stunning debut” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) We All Looked Up, delivers a brilliant new novel about a young man who overcomes a crippling loss and finds the courage to live after meeting an enigmatic girl.
Tommy Wallach, the New York Times bestselling author of the “stunning debut” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) We All Looked Up, delivers a brilliant new novel about a young man who overcomes a crippling loss and finds the courage to live after meeting an enigmatic girl.

“Was this story written about me?”
I shrugged.
“Yes or no?”
I shrugged again, finally earning a little scowl, which somehow made the girl even more pretty.
“It’s very rude not to answer simple questions,” she said.
I gestured for my journal, but she still wouldn’t give it to me. So I took out my pen and wrote on my palm.
I can’t, I wrote. Then, in tiny letters below it: Now don’t you feel like a jerk?

Parker Santé hasn’t spoken a word in five years. While his classmates plan for bright futures, he skips school to hang out in hotels, killing time by watching the guests. But when he meets a silver-haired girl named Zelda Toth, a girl who claims to be quite a bit older than she looks, he’ll discover there just might be a few things left worth living for.

From the celebrated author of We All Looked Up comes a unique story of first and last loves.

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I’ve always liked that phrase, “kill time.” As if time were some kind of evil dragon that needed to be slain. Unfortunately, like everything else in the world, time dies of natural causes, year by year, hour by hour, second by second. It’s a veritable time massacre going on out here.

Parker Santé has been mute since his father died in a car accident they were both involved in. It’s been five years. He’s still a bit angry with his lot in life so he spends the majority of his time alone, killing time, frequenting hotels because he’s found its easy to steal from rich people there. After skipping school, he spends his day at San Francisco’s Palace Hotel where he meets a most intriguing girl by the name of Zelda Toth… after he tries to steal her money. Despite their rocky introduction, the two quickly form a solid yet palpable connection that develops through the power of storytelling. Parker’s talent for writing fictional stories and Zelda’s own personal story: that she’s far, far older than she actually looks.

This is my second Tommy Wallach story and most certainly won’t be my last. His stories have never fallen into the category I find myself typically reading, yet he manages to tactfully write the most authentic and captivating characters. Parker possesses a depth that goes beyond the typical story we’ve all read about where the kid loses a parent and subsequently removes himself from the normal world. He was unexpectedly hilarious in that sarcastic way I do love so much. What stands out from this already charming story are Parker’s short stories. At first, I found the idea of them to be somewhat of an ill-fitting piece of the puzzle and that they would essentially detract from the main story; at least I did until it returns to the main story and I suddenly wished to go back to his magical storytelling. They are captivating to say the least and Wallach’s ability to write multiple amazing stories within a single story is most notable. Zelda seemed to be the biggest issue for most readers, yet I found her to be well-written too. Instead of the manic pixie dream girl that at first glance seems like we’d be getting, there’s a depth to her as well, and a compelling background that makes her far from conventional.

Thanks for the Trouble is a contemporary story about experiencing life and learning to recognize the things we take for granted. It’s not completely contemporary though, with a magical realism flair that never gives you exact answers but instead leaves you contemplating. For the most part, contemplating what it would be like to live forever, and if it would be as fantastic as one would initially think. You never quite know what is real and what is make believe with this one but that is exactly what makes this such an enchanting read.

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Audiobook Review – Where All Light Tends to Go by David Joy

January 21, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2016 2 Comments

Audiobook Review – Where All Light Tends to Go by David JoyWhere All Light Tends to Go by David Joy
Narrator: MacLeod Andrews
Published by Books on Tape on March 4th 2015
Length: 7 hours and 30 minutes
Genres: Southern Gothic/Country Noir
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
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Also by this author: The Weight of This World, The Line That Held Us

three-half-stars

The area surrounding Cashiers, North Carolina, is home to people of all kinds, but the world that Jacob McNeely lives in is crueler than most. His father runs a methodically organized meth ring, with local authorities on the dime to turn a blind eye to his dealings. Having dropped out of high school and cut himself off from his peers, Jacob has been working for this father for years, all on the promise that his payday will come eventually. The only joy he finds comes from reuniting with Maggie, his first love, and a girl clearly bound for bigger and better things than their hardscrabble town.

Jacob has always been resigned to play the cards that were dealt him, but when he botches a murder and sets off a trail of escalating violence, he’s faced with a choice: stay and appease his kingpin father, or leave the mountains with the girl he loves. In a place where blood is thicker than water and hope takes a back seat to fate, Jacob wonders if he can muster the strength to rise above the only life he’s ever known.

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‘It was a silly thought to think that the life I was born into was something that could be so easily left behind. Some were destined for bigger things, far-off places, and such. But some of us were glued to this place and would live out what little bit of life we were given until we were just another body buried on uneven ground.’

Jacob McNeely is eighteen years old and has little to no hope for his future; he’s a McNeely after all. His mother is a meth addict and his father is the leader of the Cashiers, North Carolina meth ring with Jacob stuck between the middle of them. His daddy sends him and two others on a task to dispose of a snitch before he does further damage but everything goes wrong and sets in motion inescapable trouble. When Jacob’s only love Maggie asks him to leave with her, to finally leave that place behind, he has a brief moment of hope where he can almost see himself surviving outside of Cashiers. Actually making it happen is another matter entirely.

Ahh, another one of my “back woods” books. Appalachians. Trailers. Meth rings. And let’s not forget the typical abundance of bloodshed. There is something about these stories that manage to completely captivate me, don’t ask me why or how. Light has been on my TBR for ages but it wasn’t until Audible called this audio narration one of the best of 2015 did I finally pick it up. MacLeod Andrews narration is fantastic and I completely agree with Audible (listen below to a clip.) While I’m definitely impressed that this is the authors debut novel, there was something slightly absent from this and I’ve determined that it was ultimately the characterizations. Jacob was a well-written complex character that hovered on the fence that separated good and evil the entire story. His “daddy” was straight up violent with no redeeming characteristics whatsoever, which isn’t always a bad thing, but I would have appreciated some complexity with him as well. Maggie’s purpose was to be the shining beacon of hope, the good girl that turns Jacob away from a life of crime, but that’s all she really was… a purpose. Her character wasn’t built up at all, relying on her and Jacob’s past which we were never even shown in walks down memory lane. If it had gone on for too much longer I would be tempted to say it took the path of cliché, however, Joy pulled out the punches with an explosive ending that was bold and audacious and left me most impressed.

“Looks like there might be a little of that McNeely blood in you after all.”
That’s what I was scared of.

Where All Light Tends to Go is about being born into a situation, a lifestyle, and the realization that circumstance is one difficult obstacle to surmount. Jacob McNeely may be a McNeely, but his strength and determination to earn a life beyond his family legacy is admirable. David Joy is one to add to the list of Southern Gothic authors to read when you’re looking for a wild time in the Appalachians.

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Audiobook Review – Heartburn by Nora Ephron

January 8, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2016 11 Comments

Audiobook Review – Heartburn by Nora EphronHeartburn by Nora Ephron
Narrator: Meryl Streep
Published by Random House Audio on March 12th 1983
Length: 5 hours and 30 minutes
Genres: Chick-Lit, Funny-ha-ha
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
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Also by this author: I Remember Nothing: and Other Reflections

four-half-stars

Is it possible to write a sidesplitting novel about the breakup of the perfect marriage? If the writer is Nora Ephron, the answer is a resounding yes. For in this inspired confection of adultery, revenge, group therapy, and pot roast, the creator of Sleepless in Seattle reminds us that comedy depends on anguish as surely as a proper gravy depends on flour and butter.

Seven months into her pregnancy, Rachel Samstat discovers that her husband, Mark, is in love with another woman. The fact that the other woman has "a neck as long as an arm and a nose as long as a thumb and you should see her legs" is no consolation. Food sometimes is, though, since Rachel writes cookbooks for a living. And in between trying to win Mark back and loudly wishing him dead, Ephron's irrepressible heroine offers some of her favorite recipes. Heartburn is a sinfully delicious novel, as soul-satisfying as mashed potatoes and as airy as a perfect soufflé.

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‘I think I was so entranced with being a couple that I didn’t even notice that the person I thought I was a couple with thought he was a couple with someone else.’

Heartburn is Nora Ephron’s first and only novel, and this breaks my heart because I adored this story. Never did I think it so thoroughly possible to take a story about heartbreak and turn it into something so full of life and jest. Heartbreak is a devastating thing that we humans are forced to suffer through, but can you even imagine having to undergo it at 38 years old and 7 months pregnant? Rachel discovers a note from her husbands lover in a book of children’s songs, suggesting that he sing them to his son. Him and Rachel’s son. Written with such stunning clarity, it’s effortless to understand the rage (and embarrassment) that Rachel felt. But being pregnant and having a toddler left her with a precarious decision on whether to stay or go.

‘Maybe he’s missed me, I thought as we came around the corner. Maybe he’s come to his sense. Maybe he’s remembered he loves me. Maybe he’s full of remorse. There was a police car parked in front of the house. Maybe he’s dead, I thought. That wouldn’t solve everything, but it would solve a few things. He wasn’t, of course. They never are. When you want them to die, they never do.’

Rachel Samstat has such a wry and cynical sense of humor (the best type of humor) that manages to never tread into bitterness. I’m not sure if it’s because Meryl Streep herself played Rachel in the 1986 movie adaptation of Heartburn but she voiced Rachel impeccably (do yourself a favor and listen to the clip below). I spent half the time listening to this story laughing uproariously with tears in my eyes. She portrayed a perfect combination of indifference and restraint while handling a tough situation but opening up the dam of emotions when absolutely necessary. It encompassed everything about true heartbreak and just how calamitous it can be, but galvanizing as well. Infused within her tale of heartbreak are comfort food recipes such as Sour Cream Peach Pie, plain ol’ mashed potatoes, and of course Key Lime Pie; perfect for consuming or weaponizing, if ever the situation calls for it.


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Audiobook Review – Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

January 7, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2016 1 Comment

Audiobook Review – Go Set a Watchman by Harper LeeGo Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
Narrator: Reese Witherspoon
Series: To Kill a Mockingbird
Published by Harper Audio on July 14th 2015
Length: 6 hours and 57 minutes
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
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Also by this author: To Kill a Mockingbird

two-stars

From Harper Lee comes a landmark new novel set two decades after her beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird.

Maycomb, Alabama. Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch--"Scout"--returns home from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise's homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town and the people dearest to her. Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt. Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman perfectly captures a young woman, and a world, in a painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past--a journey that can be guided only by one's conscience.

Written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman imparts a fuller, richer understanding and appreciation of Harper Lee. Here is an unforgettable novel of wisdom, humanity, passion, humor and effortless precision--a profoundly affecting work of art that is both wonderfully evocative of another era and relevant to our own times. It not only confirms the enduring brilliance of To Kill a Mockingbird, but also serves as its essential companion, adding depth, context and new meaning to an American classic.

To Kill a Mockingbird series

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To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee [Review]

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This book will be discussed in detail, so please do not read unless you wanted to be spoiled.

When Go Set a Watchman was announced and released in the summer of 2015, it had its fair share of controversy. It was heavily questioned initially whether Harper Lee had authorized the book’s release, or if she had even written it at all. But then the release came, and the outrage became even more substantial: Atticus Finch is racist. I couldn’t help but feel that the quotations that were shared were being taken out of context, but it was some pretty solid evidence that was hard to refute. Bottom line, my curiosity was great and I had to experience the truth myself.

Readers are mad, and rightly so in my opinion, that Atticus Finch’s character has been dramatically transposed from the interpretation we were given in To Kill A Mockingbird. But that’s just what it was, an interpretation. If you remember, the story was written entirely from the point of view of Scout, who was just six years old and at that young age, it is easy for parental idolatry to occur. Go Set a Watchman takes place years later, where Jean Louise Finch “Scout” is now twenty-six years old and coming home from New York to visit her aging father. She’s confronted with the fact that she’s understood her father to be of one frame of mind about the world, that she has modeled her own mindset after his, and her beliefs are now crumbling when she discovers him in a “citizens’ council” meeting hosting a racist preacher. When she has it out with him later, she finds out that her father is a card-carrying member of the KKK as well. Atticus was that one shining beacon of hope in a sea of racism and to find out he’s no different than the majority of individuals in this era caused a complete loss of innocence. And here we all thought that To Kill A Mockingbird was the coming-of-age tale.

I did a re-read of To Kill A Mockingbird just last year, so it was all still very clear in my mind. This is a direct line from my review which posted last March:

“Atticus Finch, by far my favorite character, is a man that saw everyone as his equal. He believed this wholeheartedly and was willing to put his very livelihood on the line to fight for those rights. He was able to accept the differences in all of us and see the true bottom line: regardless of race, color, gender or any of the multitudes of ways that not only make us who we are but also separates us from the rest, at the end of the day we are all the same; we’re all human beings. This world would be a far better place with a few more Atticus Finch’s in existence.”

Go Set a Watchman has definitely caused me to examine my own mindset, much like Scout. So other than our preconceived notions that Atticus was anything but racist, what do we know about him actually? He’s honest and fair, he’s a great father and a fantastic lawyer. He views his job less as a job but more as a personal pledge to upholding the law, regardless of race. And there’s the rub. Atticus chose to defend Tom Robinson solely because of his personal obligation to upholding justice because he felt that no one would properly defend him like Atticus would.

“I remember that rape case you defended, but I missed the point. You love justice, all right. Abstract justice written down item by item on a brief – nothing to do with that black boy, you just like a neat brief. His cause interfered with your orderly mind, and you had to work order out of disorder. It’s a compulsion with you, and now it’s coming home to you – “

He goes on to explain his membership to the KKK as a way of being aware of who is also a member and who holds those beliefs. Jean Louise’s love interest, Henry, is also a card-carrying member and he explains to her his presence in the citizen’s council meeting be saying it allows him to continue to be of use to the community. That he isn’t necessarily agreeing with their beliefs, but he’s not going against them because calling them out would cast him out and being a part of the norm is safe. In a nutshell. So, conform to the norm and don’t voice your differing opinions because that’s not safe, is the belief. Of course, this is an extremely accurate interpretation of the typical mindset during this period in history and having Atticus come out as having racist beliefs just makes more sense even if I’d prefer to stick with my illustrious views of him, rather than these dispiriting quotes:

“Have you ever considered that you can’t have a set of backward people living among people advanced in one kind of civilization and have a social Arcadia?”

“You realize that our Negro population is backward, don’t you? You will concede that? You realize the full implications of the word ‘backward’, don’t you?”

“You realize that the vast majority of them here in the South are unable to share fully in the responsibilities of citizenship, and why?”

“Do you want Negroes by the carload in our schools and churches and theaters? Do you want them in our world? […] Do you want your children going to school that’s been dragged down to accommodate Negro children?”

“…you do not seem to understand that the Negroes down here are still in their childhood as people.”

Jean Louise is naturally irate at what’s coming out of his mouth, but instead of voicing her dissension, explains her anger to him by asking him why he didn’t just raise her right.

“…I grew up right here in your house, and I never knew what was in your mind. I only heard what you said. You neglected to tell me that we were naturally better than the Negroes, bless their kinky heads, that they were able to go so far but so far only.”

Because if he had raised her to not be “colorblind”, as she says, and to be able to recognize the differences in the races then she wouldn’t be so conflicted because she’d be like-minded with everyone else in the town.

I loved To Kill a Mockingbird. I loved the hope it presented, but again, it was all being viewed from the point of view of a child so it had that sense of innocence. To Kill a Mockingbird has grown up, Scout has grown up, and that same world is now viewed with a devastating sense of realism that I think is a difficult thing to stomach. I have read many reviews that state even if this tarnishes Atticus for you, it is still a must-read because of how it views the world harshly but honestly. I have to disagree. For me, I think even if we enjoyed Scout’s innocent interpretation of the world, we’re all still fully aware of how the world truly is. We’re all aware of the masks that people can wear and the secrets that they hide from the public and even from those they love. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with continuing to hope that there was at least one good man in the South that was willing to stand up for his beliefs even if they didn’t manage to fit the norm.

‘I did not want my world disturbed, but I wanted to crush the man who’s trying to preserve it for me. I wanted to stamp out all the people like him. I guess it’s like an airplane: they’re the drag and we’re the thrust, together we make the thing fly. Too much of us and we’re nose-heavy, too much of them and we’re tail-heavy—it’s a matter of balance. I can’t beat him, and I can’t join him–’

Note on the Narration: I listened to Sissy Spacek’s narration of To Kill a Mockingbird and I couldn’t imagine Scout’s story being told any other way. But this book wouldn’t have been anything without the narration of Reese Witherspoon. Her southern accent is perfection and somebody has got to tell her she really must narrate more audiobooks. Listen below for a clip.

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Audiobook Review – The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy #3) by Deborah Harkness

September 25, 2015 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2015 4 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Audiobook Review – The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy #3) by Deborah HarknessThe Book of Life by Deborah Harkness
Narrator: Jennifer Ikeda
Series: All Souls Trilogy #3
Published by Viking Adult on July 15, 2014
Length: 23 hours and 52 minutes
Genres: Demons, Fantasy, Vampires, Witches
Format: Audiobook
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Shadow of Night

three-stars

The highly anticipated finale to the #1 New York Times bestselling trilogy that began with A Discovery of Witches

After traveling through time in Shadow of Night, the second book in Deborah Harkness’s enchanting series, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home at Sept-Tours, they reunite with the cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches—with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency. In the trilogy’s final volume, Harkness deepens her themes of power and passion, family and caring, past deeds and their present consequences. In ancestral homes and university laboratories, using ancient knowledge and modern science, from the hills of the Auvergne to the palaces of Venice and beyond, the couple at last learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago.

With more than one million copies sold in the United States and appearing in thirty-eight foreign editions, A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night have landed on all of the major bestseller lists and garnered rave reviews from countless publications. Eagerly awaited by Harkness’s legion of fans, The Book of Life brings this superbly written series to a deeply satisfying close.

All Souls Trilogy

A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1) [Purchase]
Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy, #2)  [Purchase|Review]

Spoilers from the first two installments!

Since the beginning, we’ve followed in the steps of Diana Bishop and Matthew Clairmont as they seek out a lost manuscript called Ashmole 782, otherwise known as The Book of Life. In A Discovery of Witches, we watch the duo fall in love and setting aside Matthew’s exceedingly over-protectiveness we’re introduced to a most interesting world where vampires, witches, and daemons manage to exist in our modern world. In Shadow of Nightwe’re taken back through time to 1590 Elizabethan London to continue the search for Ashmole 782 and for an individual to help Diana control the plethora of power she now possesses. And with this installment, the All Souls Trilogy finally comes to a close. Diana and Matthew are back in the present day, continuing the seemingly endless search for the book that has become key to unlocking the mystery of the supernatural races and also ensuring the futures of Diana and Matthews unborn children.

While the plot was far easier to follow than Shadow of Nightwhere there were so many characters (and many historically accurate figures) that it required a glossary for them alone, The Book of Life was still convoluted and overly verbose. We have the continued search for Ashmole 782, much scientific research occurs in hopes of finding a cure for Matthew’s blood rage which he hopes was not passed down to the twins, an incredible amount of supernatural politics headed by the group known as the Congregation, and to make it even more labyrinthine we have a rogue vampire on the lose who is raping witches in the hopes of impregnating them. Oh, he’s also Matthew’s son. I honestly felt as if that whole “bad seed” storyline could have been dropped completely. I didn’t feel the addition of some supremely evil character had to be included to up the ante; it would have been just fine without.

What I did enjoy though is that this isn’t your typical fantasy taking place on some made up world. This is right here on Earth and the way in which it’s written makes the possibility of magic and supernatural beings all the more plausible, mlike how Harry Potter made me want to believe in magic. I’ve always appreciated how Harkness was able to incorporate so many supernatural creatures without it sliding into cheesy territory; the historically accurate detailing always made these stories feel of the highest quality. Watching Diana grow into her magic was wonderfully done as well and I loved the detail given to her spellcasting. While I felt the Life was unreasonably elaborate and the ending left little in the way of surprises, it was still satisfying to see Diana and Matthews story come to an end.

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Audiobook Review – Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #3) by Laini Taylor

July 25, 2015 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2015, YA 2 Comments

Audiobook Review – Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #3) by Laini TaylorDreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor
Narrator: Khristine Hvam
Series: Daughter of Smoke & Bone #3
Published by Hachette Audio on April 8th 2014
Length: 18 hours and 11 minutes
Genres: Angels, Fantasy, Romance
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Days of Blood and Starlight

three-half-stars

In this thrilling conclusion to the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, Karou is still not ready to forgive Akiva for killing the only family she's ever known.

When a brutal angel army trespasses into the human world, Karou and Akiva must ally their enemy armies against the threat--and against larger dangers that loom on the horizon. They begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves--maybe even toward love.

From the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond, humans, chimaera, and seraphim will fight, strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone series

Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #1) by Laini Taylor {Review}
Days of Blood and Starlight (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #2) by Laini Taylor {Review}

‘Once upon a time,an angel and a devil pressed their hands to their hearts and started the apocalypse.’

My first read of the first book ended on a low note. I reread and my opinion changed enormously. Unfortunately, I’m ending once again on a low note and I fear that no rereading will be able to change that. Daughter of Smoke and Bone was a wonderfully inventive story of angels and demons, of romance, and friendship, and something magical. Days of Blood and Starlight was decidedly darker and puts its total focus on the coming war between enemies that has been culminating for centuries upon centuries. Dreams of Gods & Monsters is a passive blend of the two and while the writing never fails to inspire praise, I felt the story left a bit to be desired.

‘Once upon a time, there was only darkness. And there were monsters vast as worlds who swam in it.’

For the most part, my sole issue was the inclusion of a brand new character/storyline that could have benefited from an introduction in the previous books so that her addition in this one wasn’t such a jarring change. There was a vast amount of time spent on her character build and while her presence ended up being an inevitable necessity, it still didn’t make the massive amounts of dialogue and general confusion as to her purpose any easier to handle at the time. It was all the more obvious when it wasn’t something I could breeze through on pages since I was cemented in place by the ridiculously long audiobook (18+ hours).

The other issue that detracted from my ultimate enjoyment was Karou and Akiva. *gasp* I know, but let me explain. We’ve been told from the very beginning of their all-encompassing love for one another in all their lives. They’re in mad, passionate love with one another; we get it. But we don’t need to be reminded of this every time they manage to lay eyes on one another. It got repetitive after a point. Also, the constancy of issues they ran into giving them one reason or another to not fall into each other’s arms and fly off into the sunset together got tiresome. How many roadblocks can one pair stand before they scream in frustration? If I was almost there, they had to be screaming for sure.

‘Happiness wasn’t a mystical place to be reached or won–some bright terrain beyond the boundary of misery, a paradise waiting for them to find it–but something to carry doggedly with you through everything, as humble and ordinary as your gear and supplies.’

Despite my not so fabulous rating, I still remain completely dazzled at Laini Taylor’s beautiful way with words. She manages to imbue a wondrousness in the ordinary and completely transforms it. I might not be completely satisfied with this story/series, however, Taylor still makes it all worth it. I can’t wait to experience more of her writing excellence.

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Audiobook Review – Days of Blood and Starlight (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #2) by Laini Taylor

June 5, 2015 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2015, YA 1 Comment

Audiobook Review – Days of Blood and Starlight (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #2) by Laini TaylorDays of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor
Narrator: Khristine Hvam
Series: Daughter of Smoke & Bone #2
Published by Hachette Audio on November 6th 2012
Pages: 15 hours and 21 minutes
Genres: Angels, Fantasy, Romance
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Dreams of Gods & Monsters

four-stars

The sequel to the mesmerizing, acclaimed book DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by National Book Award-finalist Laini Taylor

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Karou must come to terms with who and what she is, and how far she'll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, mysteries and secrets, new characters and old favorites, Days of Blood and Starlight brings the richness, color and intensity of the first book to a brand new canvas.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone was declared a "must read" by Entertainment Weekly, was named a Best Book of the Year by Amazon.com, and The New York Times called it "a breath-catching romantic fantasy."

Daughter of Smoke & Bone series

Audiobook Review – Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #1) by Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #1) by Laini Taylor {My Review}

‘Once upon a time, a girl lived in a sandcastle, making monsters to send through a hole in the sky.’

Having finally discovered who she truly is, Karou finds herself on the side of the chimaera, in a pivotal role, in the impending battle against the seraphim. Including Akiva. Bitter and resentful for the memories that bombarded her, she’s still unable to stop her heart from missing him despite the damage he has done. But harden her heart she must, because war is coming and with so few chimaera remaining there is much work to be done. In the back of her mind is a tiny whisper, that contemplates how this all could be avoided without further bloodshed. And while she ponders this thought, Akiva does the same.

Days of Blood and Starlight took a completely different approach from its predecessor that I was not anticipating. Daughter left us with a tragic ending, Karou having remembered her past love of Akiva, subsequently emboldening her current love for him, except his admission of wrongdoing throws her heart into complete and utter turmoil. Feeling that she must do what she can to help her people she joins forces with the unlikeliest one, Thiago, in order to help him save what is left of their people. Thiago has a different goal in mind though and is hellbent on slaughter and vengeance, even at the risk of his own people. The pain that Karou suffers both internal and external is a hard pill to swallow, but is nonetheless a necessary evil. Akiva’s story was equally impressive and his unexpected decision was shocking and one I didn’t see coming.

Days of Blood and Starlight was a dark and grisly story that lacked the passionate romance I loved in Daughter, but only served to strengthen this story as a whole. I didn’t realize the lightness of the previous installment was almost overdone and that the darkness was a necessary building block that made this an exceptionally strong installment. And it must be mentioned, but the writing? It continues to make me swoon. All this carnage leaves only a sole book remaining and I am quite nervous to see how it all pans out. I can’t wait.

‘I am one of billions. I am stardust gathered fleetingly into form. I will be ungathered. The stardust will go on to be other things someday and I will be free.’

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Audiobook Review – Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #1) by Laini Taylor

May 30, 2015 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2015, YA 2 Comments

Audiobook Review – Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #1) by Laini TaylorDaughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Narrator: Khristine Hvam
Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1
on September 27, 2011
Length: 12 hours and 32 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Days of Blood and Starlight, Dreams of Gods & Monsters

four-stars

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands", she speaks many languages - not all of them human - and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

‘Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there’s no actual magic in it, but when you know what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you can make things happen, almost like magic.’

Daughter of Smoke & Bone is one much raved about series. I never quite jumped on that bandwagon having read this first book as soon as it was released and not finding it to my liking. I quickly slid into the shadows after I realized I was the illusive black sheep uncertain whether I intended on picking up the future installments. Well, we can all praise Bookish Bingo for pushing me to do a re-read and deciding to give this one a second chance because I really, really enjoyed this one.

This is going to be less of a review and more of an analysis. And a comparison between my first thoughts and current thoughts. Regarding my first review, there were several things that I don’t think I fully appreciated in my first read. First of those is the fantastic friendship between Karou and Zuzana. I didn’t even mention those two and I’m kind of appalled with myself. Her addition to the story added a lightness and a humor that brought Karou’s character to life. Her character was interesting already in her descriptions (the blue hair, the hamsa tattoos) but her interactions with her best friend brought out the personality that made her something more.

The other thing I clearly failed to appreciate was the romance (with Akiva). In my original read my mind immediately went to ‘insta-love’ failing to completely grasp the significance of their meeting, of who Karou is and that it was a far cry from anything related to insta-love. Initially sure, their romance might have seemed quick and reckless, especially when this is someone that is supposed to be her mortal enemy. But as soon as their connected past is revealed? And that ending? Tear my heart out and run it over.

Whether it was the audiobook that finally got me to love this one or my overdue appreciation for the subtleties that made this story so wonderful (or both) the narrator for this is still definitely deserving of praise. So rarely will I listen to an audio narration and immediately seek out all other audiobooks from that narrator because I can’t stop thinking “Damn, girl, you know how to tell a story.”

I was undecided whether I had an interest in continuing this series after my first read. This time, however, I have the second audio ready and waiting for me to finish wrapping up my thoughts. I’m definitely on the bandwagon now.

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